Evacuation order lifted after naphtha chemical leak and fire at Louisiana refinery

Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Evacuations were ordered Friday within 2 miles of a naphtha chemical leak and fire at a Garyville, La., Marathon petroleum refinery in St. John The Baptist Parish 40 miles west of New Orleans.

No injuries were reported and the evacuation order was rescinded by Friday afternoon. The parish earlier had issued an emergency declaration. Both the parish and Marathon petroleum said the release and fire were contained within the refinery's property.

A thick plume of black smoke billowed into the air from the fire and likely spread the naphtha, which is a flammable liquid that can be used as fuel, into the air beyond the company's property.

The evacuation, including schools in the area, was precautionary, according to Parish President Jaclyn Hotard.

Earlier Friday, Marathon Petroleum said in a statement, "The release and fire are contained within the refinery's property and there have been no injuries."

The company said it was working to stop the fire. New Orleans-area firefighters also were brought in to help fight the fire. Initial efforts to put it out with foam failed.

Roughly 8,660 people live within two miles of the refinery, according to Census data.

Fire officials said that some negative respiratory impacts are possible as responders monitor the smoke plume. Residents were advised to stay indoors if possible.

Shelters were opened at multiple locations.