The Woodward News

Local News

June 20, 2014

Fire at CF Industries plant Friday morning

Woodward, Okla. — An investigation is being made into what caused a fire that erupted at the CF Industries fertilizer plant west of Woodward on Friday morning.

Although it briefly shot flames and smoke hundreds of feet into the air, the fire did not cause any injuries to plant personnel.

However, the fire did prompt a temporary evacuation of the plant by all employees except those helping to fight the fire and secure the facility.

The fire, which erupted around 9:30 a.m., was quickly contained by an internal emergency response team. And workers were able to start returning to their stations within an hour.

Woodward Fire Department responded to the scene to be on hand if any additional assistance or further evacuations were needed.  However, WFD personnel "never entered the scene," according to Fire Chief Steve Day.

In a small press conference around 11 a.m. Friday, Acting Plant Manager Amanuel Welderufael said that details about the exact location, nature and cause of the fire were not yet known.

"We are still investigating all that," Welderufael said.

However, he said the general area of the fire was "right under" the plant's flare stacks.

"But as far as what specific equipment was affected, I don't know," he said.

Welderufael also said that it was "too early to tell" the extent and cost of the damage caused by the fire.

When The News contacted him for an update late Friday afternoon, Welderufael indicated that it may take a few days to determine how much damage the fire caused and to make appropriate repairs.

"We have shut down the process and we will likely stay down for the next couple of days as we investigate," he said.  "We will not restart the process until we can find out what all needs to be replaced."

This is the second fire in 2 years at the plant, which produces anhydrous ammonia.

In August 2012 a fire broke out in an absorber tower.  No one was injured in that fire either, but the Woodward Fire Department was called on to use its 95-foot ladder truck to help spray water on the tower to cool it down.

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