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Five of six workers accounted for in Paradis pipeline fire

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PARADIS - An evacuation has been lifted in St. Charles Parish following a fire at the Phillips 66 pipeline near the Williams Discovery Plant on Thursday evening.

The pipeline has been blocked and the product in the line continues to burn, as water can not be used to extinguish the blaze. As of Friday morning, officials said that the fire has "significantly improved" as the pressure in the pipeline is decreasing. Phillips 66 officials said that crews are trying to find ways to decrease the product in the pipe and it "could take a couple of days" as it must burn out on its own.

Six workers were present when the pipeline exploded. According to parish officials, three of them were Phillips 66 employees, and the other three were contract workers. Two contract workers were hospitalized and have been released. One of the contractors remains hospitalized as of Friday morning at the Baton Rouge General Burn Unit. Five of the workers have been accounted for, according to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office. However, one Phillips 66 employee remains missing.

The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office shut down Highway 90 and Highway 631 in both directions from Bayou Gauche Road to JB Green. Highway 90 was reopened Thursday around 10:30 p.m. However, parts of Highway 631 remain blocked. According to State Police, only residents traveling on the highway will be allowed to pass. Residents must show their driver's license with their address in order to pass.  

No problems with the pipeline were reported prior to the fire. Sheriff Greg Champagne said workers were working to clean it when a 20-inch low level pipe rack, known as HVL, exploded. Phillips 66 officials say that the work was "routine maintenance."

The blaze stretched 30 to 40 feet in the air and is the same width, according to deputies. According to Phillips 66 officials, the Department of Environmental Quality was on the scene and air quality specialists with the company are continuing to monitor the air quality. As of Friday morning, the air quality does not pose a threat to the surrounding community. 

Residents in the surrounding area were asked to evacuate, but the general public was not asked to take any protective measures, according to St. Charles Parish officials. Sixty homes were evacuated.

Accoridng to St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran, the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center at 274 Judge Edward Parkway in Luling will be served as shelter for evacuees by Red Cross. As of Friday morning, 11 residents are at the shelter. 

The St. Charles Parish Emergency Operations Center says anyone with questions about the blaze can call them for more information at 985-783-5050.

Phillips 66 has also established a community response line at 800-766-6362.


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