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Explosion caused fire at Miss. biodiesel plant

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2014 at 8:04 pm •  Published: January 22, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A voluntary evacuation of about 50 homes near a burning biodiesel facility in north Mississippi was ordered late Wednesday, officials said.

The fire began with an early Wednesday explosion, according to authorities, who said no injuries have been reported and the cause remains under investigation.

The evacuation was ordered after winds began shifting smoke from the blaze and heavy smoke began to accumulate on the ground, said Union County Emergency Management Director Curt Clayton.

Clayton said a shelter has been set up at Victory Life Center in New Albany for those needing it.

Meanwhile, officials planned to let the fire at North Mississippi Biodiesel near New Albany burn out, a process they said could go into the night.

Two workers escaped without injuries at the time of the explosion near New Albany about 6 a.m., Clayton said. He said there was a second, though smaller, blast Wednesday afternoon.

The explosion and fire shut down a highway, damaged a power substation that knocked out electricity to parts of Tippah County, and caused the evacuation of one home and two industrial businesses, authorities said.

The company makes biodiesel fuel, and that is what is believed to be on fire, Clayton said.

The blaze has died down some, "but it's still big enough that we're not sending anybody up there," Clayton said.

David L. Franks, listed as North Mississippi Biodiesel's vice president in documents filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State's office, declined to answer any questions when contacted Wednesday by The Associated Press. The company was incorporated in 2005, according to the secretary of state's records.

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