The fire was first reported shortly before 10 a.m. at 1940 Anthony Dr., at Rio Bio Fuel’s facility. A series of small explosions were heard. The fire has been contained, and firefighters are concentrating on hot spots and smoldering areas. Doña Ana County hazardous-materials specialists plan to inspect the site further to determine what chemicals may have been affected or released in the fire.
The evacuation order has been lifted, and residents are being escorted back to their homes. NM 460 has reopened.
Firefighters did not enter any buildings at the facility during the firefighting effort.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation is bringing in heavy equipment to build an earthen dam to contain all water on the site, in the event chemicals were released during the firefighting stage of operations.
Because this is a hazmat situation, the New Mexico State Police is the lead agency, with support from the Doña Ana County Fire and Emergency Services Department and the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Responding entities to the event from Doña Ana County included the Anthony, Santa Teresa, Chamberino, La Mesa, Mesquite and Chaparral Volunteer Fire Districts, with support from El Paso County Fire Department. Other responding entities include El Paso Electric Company, El Paso Natural Gas, Kinder-Morgan Gas Corporation and the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
According to U.S. Census data, there were 1,202 residents and 351 houses within the evacuation area. No injuries were reported.
The Dona Ana County Emergency Operations Center remains activated.
Evacuees were sent to Gadsden High School at 6301 N.M. 28. The American Red Cross assisted with 150 meals for firefighters.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but the facility is known to have large quantities of methanol, glycerin and sodium methylate, as well as vegetable oil, hydrochloric acid and bio-diesel fuel. All of the hazardous materials were threatened by the fire.
Motorists are advised to avoid the Anthony area and to obey all police lines.
An incident-command station on the scene of the fire is the primary source of information coming back to the EOC.