Biofuel facility on fire in southern New Mexico

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ANTHONY, N.M. (AP) — A biofuel facility near Anthony in southern New Mexico caught fire Tuesday, prompting an evacuation of an area a half-mile around the plant, authorities said.

Dona Ana County officials evacuated their emergency operations center and declared a hazardous materials emergency, said county spokesman Jess Williams.

Williams said there was no immediate word of any injuries and that cause of the fire was not known.

However, he said there has been a series of small explosions.

Anthony is located on the New Mexico-Texas line, between Las Cruces, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas.

Fire crews from several agencies were on the scene along with county sheriff's deputies and New Mexico State Police, Williams said.

According to Williams, the plant is known to have large quantities of methanol and other fuels and chemicals. Those included vegetable oil, hydrochloric acid and bio-diesel fuel, Williams said.

According to U.S. Census data, there are 1,202 residents and 351 houses within the evacuation area, Williams said.

Evacuees were being directed to a high school in the area, while motorists were being advised to avoid the Anthony area, he said.