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World News

Fire erupts at hurricane-hit Louisiana chemical plant

(Reuters) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Thursday asked residents in three southwestern communities to stay indoors with windows and doors shut as a plume rose from a chemical fire at a Biolab plant in an area hit by Hurricane Laura.

KIK Custom Products Inc confirmed the fire at its Biolab Lake Charles facility and said it was working with first responders and other agencies to contain and mitigate its impact as quickly as possible.

The facility had been shut down and all employees evacuated after Hurricane Laura was upgraded to Category 4, a representative said.

KIK Custom Products acquired Biolab in 2013. The business manufactures chlorine-based products for home cleaning and swimming pools, according to its website.

Pictures posted on social media showed billowing smoke spread over an area of industrial plants. Police said the blaze was contained at the Biolab site.

Edwards in a press conference said a chlorine gas chemical fire was burning at the facility. He added that he had asked residents of Westlake, Moss Bluff and Sulphur to shelter at home.

Police halted traffic on Interstate 10 near Westlake due to the smoke. The road is the major link connecting Louisiana to Texas and Mississippi.

“Unfortunately, despite the heat that they’re experiencing, shelter in home under those circumstances means they need to be on the inside of their home with their doors and windows closed and the air conditioning off if they’re lucky enough to have electricity,” Edwards said.

“We’re doing everything we can to get that situation under control and put out that fire,” he said.

Laura slammed into the Louisiana coast as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour (240 kmh) that destroyed buildings and killed a 14-year-old girl. It weakened overland to a tropical storm and was headed north into Arkansas.

Reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver, Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York, and Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Matthew Lewis and Tom Brown

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