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Health, Science, Environment

Fire Extinguished After Explosions At Affton Chemical Plant; 1 Firefighter Injured

Witnesses reported a series of explosions and a fire at the Manor Chemical Plant in Affton in south St. Louis County on Thursday.
5 On Your Side
Witnesses reported a series of explosions and a fire at the Manor Chemical Plant in Affton in south St. Louis County on Thursday.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. April 29 with the fire extinguished

The fire burning at a chemical plant in Affton was extinguished Thursday evening after multiple explosions at the plant.

Lt. Matt Coppin with the Metro West Fire Protection District said there were multiple explosions at the Manor Chemical Plant at around 2:30 Thursday. He said a tanker truck, about 10 containers and the chemical plant building were all on fire when crews arrived.

Initially, first responders decided evacuating the area was the higher priority, so firefighters and police officers from nearby departments went door-to-door in the area, telling people to get out of their homes.

In a tweet, the St. Louis County Police Department said they were evacuating everyone within a half-mile radius of the plant. The department said evacuees could go to the Affton Elks Lodge at 6330 Heege Road, where the Red Cross is providing assistance.

Once they were able to focus on the fire, crews from around the area worked together to put out the four-alarm fire.

Coppin said there were 62 fire trucks on the scene. He said the firefighters used foam to put out the fire, which was declared under control at around 5 p.m.

Coppin said firefighters were expected to remain on the scene for several hours to make sure everything stays under control.

Coppin said one firefighter was injured. He did not know the extent of the injuries but said the firefighter was taken to the hospital for treatment.

The Metro West Fire Protection District provided a preliminary update to the media. The response was led by the Affton Fire Protection District.

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According to the Manor Chemical website, the company has been in business since 1972 and specializes in automotive, paint and coatings, labeling, printing, industrial manufacturing and dry cleaning chemicals.

According to the EPA, Manor Chemical has had three years of continuous noncompliance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, resulting in a written informal enforcement action in 2017 and a notice of violation in 2018 from the state.

An officer near the scene told 5 On Your Side's Casey Nolen that the smoke from the fire was dangerous due to the chemicals burning.

In a tweet, Affton Schools said all students still at school were being held for dismissal until further notice due to the explosion and fire. A school spokesperson said students at Gotsch Intermediate and Mesnier Primary were held until firefighters advised they were safe. As of 3:50 p.m. all students at Gotsch had been dismissed and car riders at Mesmier were also dismissed, but bus riders were still being held at Mesmier.

The Metropolitan Sewer District is responding to the scene as well. A spokesman from MSD said their Environmental Compliance team is on scene. He said they don't know what chemicals are coming out of the plant, but they are concerned that it may be entering the sewer system.

Sam Clancy is a digital producer for 5 On Your Side, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

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