Affton chemical plant fire causes explosions and evacuations

Missouri

AFFTON, Mo. – Residents are back home and streets around the Manor Chemical company plant are back open Thursday following a massive at the plant earlier that afternoon.

A large plume of smoke could be seen for miles. Firefighters and first responders evacuated people who lived within a half-mile of the facility, located in the 6900 block of Heege Road.

Neighbors reported hearing continuing explosions in the area.

Firefighters were staying back because of the dangerous situation. They got to the scene immediately but approached the scene at around 4 p.m. and set up a “hose perimeter” to help contain the extremely hot fire.

An expert in HAZMAT situations told FOX 2 that the firefighters’ presence on the scene now is a good sign. It means that the area is probably safe enough for them to work on. Firefighters likely know what is in chemical drums at the plant and where it is safe to go.

The Manor Chemical company started in 1972. They specialize in automotive, paint/coatings, labeling, printing, industrial manufacturing, and dry cleaning. They are a wholesale distributor and sell chemicals in drums that range up to 55 gallons.

It is not clear what was going up in smoke. The company distributes drums of their products but the amount and type of chemicals in the drums are not known at this time. Portions of a building, as well as plastic drums and other materials, are on fire.

The Red Cross is in the area to help people evacuated from the area.

Affton Fire Protection Chief Nick Fahs said Thursday night they believe the fire started because of an electrical spark. One firefighter was injured but he was taken to a local hospital and is okay.

Fahs said he has never had to battle a fire like this before.

“We could hear that tanker venting, that it was obviously heat pinging on it, it’s either going to crack open, melt, or explode, so when we heard that venting sound in an active fire situation it certainly put a panic in all of us and we needed to evacuate that neighborhood and from the chief’s point of view, we didn’t need any firefighters getting close to that,” Fahs said.

More than 100 firefighters from 13 fire department agencies, with about 62 trucks, helped battle the fire. It took about an hour and a half of active firefighting to get the fire under control.

Fahs said other agencies brought a drone to help battle the fire from above, which helped firefighters know which areas were safe to enter to battle the blaze. He said the three employees that were in the facility at the time of the fire and they were able to escape safely.

Fahs said the three employees helped the firefighters look through the drone video to tell them which chemicals were in each container as the blaze went through the facility.

The entire facility was destroyed.

He said Affton Fire Protection District doesn’t have a drone but this experience is making him want one for the district.

Fahs said he rode to the fire with his assistant chief.

“When we got in the car, he’s like, ‘This is always the facility that makes us nervous’ because there’s so many chemicals and when the doors went up, I could see a mushroom cloud about 450 feet in the air,” Fahs said. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News