Chemical Fire That Closed Portion of Bay Finally Out

March 8, 2007 - Posted at 5:45 p.m. CST

BAY, AR -- A chemical fire that started Wednesday night around 6:30 is finally out Thursday after it closed down a portion of the town of Bay. The fire broke out in a building being used by an extermination business.  A tank inside the building burned for more than 15 hours.

Around 11:00 a.m. Thursday morning the fire department reopened Highway 463 and allowed residents to return to their homes.  For one family in particular - the past 24 hours has made for a very long day.

"We were at Jonesboro for my daughter's baptism as we headed home after the baptism we got calls from friends and relatives asking what was going on in Bay," said Bay resident Jeremy Stracener.

Stracener and his family continued home until they met roadblock manned by Craighead County Sheriff's Department.

"They stopped us and said, 'No, I am sorry. You may have animals and things you need but we can't let you in for safety reasons,'" said Stracener.

A one quarter mile radius was set up around the chemical fire to keep residents away from any potential dangers.  Inside the burning building was an insect or rodent poison called phosphine.

"In the shed there was a liquid form of it that was on fire in the shed as well as phosphine pellets," said Bay Police Chief David Kelly.

Unlike most fires hazmat was forced to just let it burn because of the chemical and the number of other chemicals in the building.

"The pellets itself would react with water as well and it would burst into a spontaneous combustion of flames," said Kelly.

For the Stracener family, they spent the evening with relatives closely monitoring the situation in their hometown.

"It's not actually until I saw it on KAIT that I realized this is really close to home," remarked Stracener.

Thursday morning the safety perimeter around the shed was lowered to only 100 feet and even though the Stracener family lives 150 feet from the shed they say they feel safe and they are happy to be home.

"Hats off to the police department, fire department, hazmat they did a great job keeping everyone safe," said Stracener.

While Stracener family is tired after a night away from home, they don't feel it was an inconvenience.

"Possibility it might have been a little bit more than what they had to do but if it saved one life it was worth it," said Stracener.

No one was injured in the fire and an investigation into the blaze is currently underway.