Early Friday afternoon emergency response crews were taking several steps to gain control of a fire that was still smoldering at the El Dorado chemical facility in Bryan. Twenty-four hours earlier, a multi-colored plume of smoke could be seen from miles, although there were no visible smoke clouds Friday, officials still kept their eyes open.
"One of the problems is the area where the fire is, we just can't get in there close enough to isolate that area yet," said Brazos County Precinct 4 Fire Chief, Joe Ondrasek.
Ondrasek said however efforts to gain control of the fire were happening quicker than expected.
"(We are) building some dirt berms and they've dug some trenches. Some preventive measures to control any run-off that we may expect to get," said Ondrasek.
Ondrasek said crews were digging trenches so that when it is safe to put water on the fire, the water would have a place to run-off. Ondrasek said it was important to monitor water run-off so that it wouldn't seep into the ground and contaminate the water supply.
Employees with the Army National Guard were on site to monitor the atmosphere using portable air testers, that were stationed along the perimeter of El Dorado's facility. A computer kept record of the ammonium nitrate levels, as well as other chemicals that may have been released into the atmosphere due to the fire. Early Friday afternoon, Sergeant Delano with the Army National Guard said the air quality seemed to be perfectly fine. Sgt. Delano also said crews were monitoring the levels in the area frequently.
By late Friday afternoon electricity had been restored to 100 residents who had lost power after officials ordered it to be turned off Thursday as a precaution. Highway 21 leading up to the El Dorado chemical fire site had also been reopened late Friday afternoon, as residents were allowed to return home. El Dorado and a contractor will continue to clean up the site over the coming days as TCEQ and other officials will continue to monitor the atmosphere.