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21st of October 2018

Sport



Fire, explosion at Dixon ag plant prompts evacuation

A fire broke out early Friday at Crop Production Services of Dixon which led to an explosion and evacuation of nearby residents.Alex T. Paschal – apaschal@saukvalley.com

Caption

A fire broke out early Friday at Crop Production Services of Dixon which led to an explosion and evacuation of nearby residents.

DIXON – No one was injured in an explosion caused by a fire about 3 a.m. Friday at Crop Production Services, 1076 Corregidor Road in Dixon, Amboy Fire Chief Jeff Bryant said.

The fire at the retail ag chemical dealer now known as Nutrien Ag Solutions prompted an evacuation and closed Sterling Road up to Route 30 for about four hours. The evacuation order was lifted at 6:30 a.m.

“At that time, the fire had been contained, and we knew that no chemicals had been released into the building,” Bryant said at a news conference Friday at the Amboy fire station.

As a precautionary measure, the Lee County Sheriff’s Department evacuated about 50 residents from a small area between 1176 and 1200 Corregidor Road. About 30 people were evacuated from nearby Allied-Locke, a neighboring manufacturer in the Green River Industrial Park. Work continued as usual for the next shift that came in at 7 a.m.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

The fire was contained to a storage building, one of three the company has at the Dixon site. The only chemicals in the building – herbicides – were contained in stainless steel tanks.

“Only two products in the building were flammable, and both were contained by the vessels,” said Bill Norden, a Nutrien manager based at the Walnut and Manlius facilities.

A secondary containment barrier also exists at the site that blocks the flow of chemicals to the surrounding area. Although some of the chemicals were flammable, none were explosive.

“There were some LP tanks there, so we think that’s probably what exploded,” Bryant said.

The main concern of the first responders was containing the smoke until they knew whether the tanks had held up. They had plugs and sandbags ready to cover up any holes.

When firefighters were comfortable that no chemicals had escaped, the decision was made to let the fire burn out on its own – a decision based on environmental and economic considerations. The firefighters used less than 100 gallons of water on the fire.

“The more water that is used, the greater the chances for doing permanent damage to the land and wildlife,” Bryant said. “More water also means a bigger cleanup that could cost millions of dollars, and we don’t want any more businesses leaving the area.”

Crop Production Services, just south of Route 30 and near Allied-Locke, is an ag chemical dealer, selling fertilizer and other farm chemicals and nutrients.

The company also has an Amboy location.

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