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Fire breaks out at chemical plant in Louisiana, forcing evacuations

Law enforcement agencies are requiring residents and businesses 1-mile north of a Louisiana chemical plant to evacuate as an apparent fire broke out Thursday, CBS affiliate KLFY-TV reports. Those within three miles north of the plant are told to shelter in place, state police said. The station notes that both lanes of Interstate 10 from the Lafayette I-49 exit to Crowley are closed.

The station adds that the Department of Environmental Quality is testing air quality before any evacuations are lifted.

Videos and pictures submitted to KLFY-TV show massive plumes of smoke that were billowing from the FlowChem Technologies plant located in the town Duson.

Louisiana State Police showed images nearby showing the smoke plume and they urged drivers to avoid the area as emergency crews responded:

There was no word of any injuries or cause of the fire, but that the scene remains active into the night.

KLFY-TV cites authorities as saying Xylene -- which is used as a solvent in the printing, rubber, paint and leather industries -- was among the chemicals that contributed to the fire at the plant.

CBS affiliate WAFB-TV says that witnesses reported hearing multiple explosions.

The plant is located about 16 miles northwest of Lafayette. The company's website describes the plant  as a "specialty oilfield chemical provider that operates across the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. onshore market with blending facilities located at Rayne, Louisiana and Pleasanton, Texas in U.S. and multiple warehouses."

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