UNION COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) - First there was fire. Then residents near the JNS Biodiesel plant in Union County felt an explosion about 5:30 Wednesday morning.
Two employees were on the site when the fire began. Both escaped without injury.
Jim Staten lives about two miles from the site and he and his wife got a real wake-up call as they prepared for work this morning. First the lights flickered, followed in an instant by a loud, air-shaking boom.
"And so I immediately looked out the back door and the first thing I saw was the entire skyline was lit up. I didn't actually see the fireball itself, but I knew something had gone horribly wrong. The house shook, the windows rattled, it was something you could feel," Staten described.
No homeowners or businesses have been evacuated. But, troopers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol have set up a three-mile perimeter, diverting traffic off of Mississippi Highway 15 North, north of New Albany.
That's because the fire continues to burn. Chemicals at the plant prevent firefighters from using traditional methods of extinguishing the blaze. The decision has been made to allow the fire to burn itself out.
Experts on the scene anticipate that will take about five hours. Local firefighters will then go in and check for hotspots. Finally, the DEQ will follow up on site.
While non-threatening to other properties, hundreds of workers at other manufacturing plants in the area are unable to get to work. The area will remain cordoned off until fire investigators and the DEQ release the scene.
Traffic is re-directed to old Highway 15. Delays in the area can be expected.
JNS Biodiesel is a privately held company, founded in 2011.
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