Fire Destroys Gulfport Chemical Plant

It was a fire that forced even the bravest of firefighters to keep their distance.

"We've been faced with extreme fire, says Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan. "We've had explosions. We've had power lines falling. We've had transformers blowing up. So it's been a very challenging fire."

Sullivan says the blaze, fed by highly flammable chemicals inside Highside Chemical Incorporated resisted their best efforts to put it out.

"We're doing a defensive fire. In other words we're not going inside the facility itself. It's just too dangerous," said Sullivan.

Sullivan says fortunately the two employees that were inside the building when the blaze erupted were able to escape unharmed.

He says unfortunately however they were unable to provide very many clues about how the fire started.

He says that's just one of the unanswered questions that will require further investigation.

"There's going be a clean up issue after this fire is out and we're well aware of that," Sullivan said.

An issue the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality began examining before the fire was out.

"We'll do a quick assessment today to see what we're looking at," says Earl Etheridge, an On Scene Coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. "We'll see how big an area is impacted. Then we'll have to pull soil samples and water samples and do a lot of testing to make sure everything is safe out here."

Fortunately Etheridge says it appears the chemicals Highside uses to manufacture sealants for the heating and air conditioning industry, while highly flammable, pose little danger.

"Hopefully there be very little environmental impact if any out of this."