Industrial fires in Los Angeles and the Houston area forced the evacuation of thousands of people, including 200 who sought shelter at Dodger Stadium. An explosion at a Virginia computer parts plant injured 16.
Los Angeles authorities evacuated up to 11,000 people Monday because they feared a lethal gas might form from cyanide and other chemicals stored at a plating company destroyed by fire, officials said. There were no injuries, and no chemical cloud was reported.A laboratory fire in South Houston ignited toxic chemicals and cylinders of compressed gas, injuring 26 people, forcing the evacuation of 600 and causing nearly $1 million in damage, officials said. Most of the injuries were minor.
Los Angeles firefighters were carefully removing an estimated 26,000 gallons of chemicals Tuesday, fearing a building collapse could form a deadly chemical mixture.
"If that happens," said fire inspector Ed Reed, "it can actually form a gas as lethal as what they use in the gas chamber at San Quentin."
The fire destroyed Builders Hardware Finishers Inc. in a heavily industrial section northeast of downtown early Monday.
A 14-square-block area was evacuated later in the morning after hazardous materials crews determined the chemicals were unstable, said Fire Department spokesman Jim Williamson.
By evening, at least 11,000 people had been moved, said police Sgt. Mario Mojarro. However, Fire Department spokesman Greg Acevedo put the number closer to 3,800.
The Red Cross set up an evacuation center with overnight accommodations under the centerfield bleachers at nearby Dodger Stadium. About 200 people showed up.
"I'm not going to be able to sleep, because I haven't seen my husband, and my husband doesn't know where I am," said Maria Cruz, who was at the stadium with her small son.
The fire caused an estimated $340,000 in damage to the building, Williamson said. The cause was under investigation.
In South Houston, fire officials monitored the charred Caleb Brett USA Inc. chemical-testing facility Tuesday for signs of any lingering risk to the area from Monday afternoon's fire.