New Mexico Biofuel Plant Catches Fire

A New Mexico biofuel plant caught fire on Tuesday, sending a giant column of smoke into the air. Authorities briefly evacuated a 1/2 mile area, including 350 homes.  The fire was reported at 9am.  In 2.5 hours the fire was smoldering, but mostly out.

A series of small explosion were reported  at the Rio Valley Biofuels Plant.  Five employees were working at the plant at the time, and no one was reported injured.

The county activated their emergency operations center and declared a hazardous materials emergency.

Witnesses described hearing loud explosions and seeing large flames.  Miguel Favela said, "We heard a few explosions, then a really loud one.  You could hear the fire burning."

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

All biofuel plants are different.  This particular plant produces fuel from recycled oil - including vegetable oil, crude cottonseed, sunflower, soy, palm, and canola -  from local food processors.  Click here to learn about the various biofuel plant fire hazards.

County hazardous materials specialists are planning to inspect the site to determine what chemicals may have been released in the fire.