Hundreds evacuated due to explosion, fire

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POSTED: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 9:33pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 12:46pm

It was an explosion that sparked the fire, causing a complete shut down of Highway 190 in West Baton Rouge Parish.

"No confirmation, but it may have been caused by a faulty valve on a vessel," said Richie Johnson, with the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office.

The fuel, acetylene, was released in the explosion causing the fire and the subsequent evacuation of everyone who lives within a mile of the Air Liquide plant.

"I was sand-blasting, heard an explosion," said Shawn Alejandro, who lives nearby. "Saw propane tanks flying 100 feet in the air."

Red Cross responded immediately, saying meals were being provided for over 200 people housed in shelters at Erwinville and Port Allen. All the evacuaee's were forced out of their homes with only a moment's notice..

"We got animals, house needs to be cleaned that wasn't before all this happened," said Aly Alejandro.

Those affected by the evacuation order will have to remain away from their homes overnight, as authorities wait for daylight before going in to assess the situation again.

"Have people standby overnight to watch the fire and make sure it doesn't spread," said Evan Harrell, with La. State Police.

Air Liquide is providing shelter for those forced out of their homes. Highway 190 will remain closed until at least Tuesday morning.  One person was injured in the fire, treated for what was described as minor burns.

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