EL PASO, Texas - The Dona Ana County Emergency Operations Center has been activated, and evacuations are underway in a ½-mile area surrounding a major structure fire at a bio-fuel facility near Anthony N.M.
The fire was first reported at shortly after 9 a.m. at 1940 Anthony Dr., at Rio Valley Bio Fuel's facility. A series of small explosions have been heard. Fire crews from multiple Dona Ana County districts are on the scene with assistance from the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office and New Mexico State Police. NM Hwy 460 is closed between mile markers 2 and 3.6.
Evacuees are being directed to Gadsden High School at 6301 N.M. 28. The American Red Cross is coordinating its response.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. The New Mexico Department of Transportation reports the call initially went out as a vehicle fire, but the fire now looks to be substantially larger than that.
The facility is known to have large quantities of methanol, glycerin and sodium methylate, as well as vegetable oil, hydrochloric acid and bio-diesel fuel. All of the hazardous materials are threatened by the fire.
Motorists are advised to avoid the Anthony area and to obey all police lines.
All responding agencies are sending representatives to the Emergency Operations Center so that resources and information can be carefully coordinated. An incident-command station on the scene of the fire is the primary source of information coming back to the EOC.
A thick plume of dark smoke hovering over the Upper Valley most of the morning.
Google maps identifies the business at that location as Rio Valley Biofuels.
The company's website says Rio Valley Biofuels is one of the Southwest's only commercial biofuel producers. It began commercially producing biodiesel in July of 2006 using recycled oil from local food processors.
The company says its feedstocks include a large variety of lipid oil sources including used vegetable oil, crude cottonseed, tallow, sunflower, canola, soy, palm, and a number of others. Plant production is between 3000 to 6000 gallons per day.
ABC-7 has a crew at the scene and will post updates with new information as it becomes available. Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelly Jameson tells ABC-7 she is en route to the scene and hopes to be able to provide more complete information soon.