Major fire in downtown Athens, evacuation ordered
POSTED: Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 5:16pm
UPDATED: Sunday, June 1, 2014 - 4:16pm
Athens, Texas (KETK) — The Henderson County Sheriff's Office has confirmed emergency crews are responding to a major fire in downtown Athens.
The sheriff's office first confirmed an explosion, but KETK has since received conflicting reports from the Athens Police Department stating there was not an explosion, only a large fire.
The blaze, which started around 5:45 p.m., is located at a building near the intersection of North Pinkerton Street and Larkin Street. Witnesses tell us the structure on fire is the East Texas Ag Supply fertilizer facility.
Authorities are evacuating up to a five block radius of downtown Athens, due to fears of an explosion, according to the multiple official sources.
The Cain Center at 915 South Palestine Street (Highway 19) is accepting providing shelters for evacuees. If transportation is needed to the shelter, buses will pick up at the following locations every 30 minutes:
- Athens High School Parking Lot, 708 East College St.
- Gates Community Church, Corner of W. Tyler St. & Gauntt St.
- Goodwill Store, 706 N. Palestine St.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is currently in route to check air quality within the evacuated area.
Updates will be provided as they become available.
No injuries have been reported, said an Athens Police Department spokesperson.
Old Fiddlers' Reunion
Residents in Athens, were already anticipating a big weekend for the annual "Old Fiddlers' Reunion," held downtown every year. City officials say they're now waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to come in and assess the air quality, before they can make a decision on the future of the festival.
Henderson County offices will be closed until 12 p.m., Friday, May 30.