Hundreds of residents remained out of their homes for a second day Monday as a fire continued to belch smoke from a nearby hazardous waste incineration plant.
About 1,500 people were initially evacuated early Sunday near the Teris Inc. plant in southern Arkansas. No one was seriously injured, but some residents complained of headaches, nausea and eye irritation, Union County Sheriff Ken Jones said.
The plant disposes of hazardous waste chemicals from industries and government operations, including solvents, insecticides and a variety of batteries.
Doug Riley, vice president of operations for El Dorado-based Teris LLC, said the fire, discovered around 8 a.m., was out by Sunday afternoon except for a small area in the storage building. Officials decided to let it burn out rather than send firefighters into a hazardous area.
While nearly 1,000 evacuees were allowed to return home when officials gave an all clear, some 570 others had to spend the night elsewhere, Police Capt. David Smith said. Main Street businesses and the Union County Jail also remained evacuated Monday.
“We need some face masks,” said Herman Hill, who was evacuated along with his wife. “We didn’t seal off our house or our air conditioner. Will the chemicals get into our food? I’m worried.”
The cause of the fire was not immediately determined.
Rebecca Truman, desk clerk at a Super 8 motel, said there was a series of explosions.
“I could hear the glass in the windows shake,” she said. “The first one was bad. It sounded like something was coming through the roof.”