MOSES LAKE, Wash. — The Grant County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) has lifted the shelter-in-place advisory due to the air quality. The poor quality is a result of a fire at the Wilbur Ellis fertilizer plant near Moses Lake.
Firefighters spent the night keeping an eye on hot spots still burning at the site of the fire. Firefighters responded to the plant around 4 p.m. on Sunday and found it fully engulfed in flames.
No one was evacuated, but Grant County Health District (GCHD) has issued a Health Advisory for people living downwind (North-East) from the fire.
GCHD warns that smoke from the fire may contain dangerous chemicals which can irritate eyes, nose, throat, airways, and lungs. People most at risk include infants, children, the elderly, and people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other lung diseases. People at risk should stay indoors.
Grant County Fire District No. 5 said fighting this fire required extra care. Fire crews limited their use of water, so the fertilizer would not contaminate underground ecosystems.
Crews also were working to make sure flames don't jump to the standing elevator. If it were to catch fire and fall, it could bring down the nearby powerlines.
Fire officials said no one was inside the plant at the time of the fire.
The Fire Marshall is expected on the scene on Monday as the investigation into the fire continues.
Grant County Health Advisory
Updated information and recommendations regarding air quality from Wilbur Ellis facility fire:
The shelter-in-place notice issued on Sunday by Grant County Sheriff’s Emergency Management has been lifted.
The facility fire continues to smolder, resulting in unhealthy air quality near and around the area. Washington Department of Ecology will continue to monitor the air quality to test for hazardous particulate matter.
Grant County Health District and Grant County Sheriff’s Emergency Management advise the public to avoid the site and surrounding areas for the safety of responders and the public. Winds are consistent, staying around 9 mph which creates the potential for smoke to travel further downwind.
People should avoid any area where they can see or smell smoke. If you must be in an area where smoke is visible, it is recommended to wear a well-fitted KN95 mask. KN95 masks can help to protect against particulate matter, but do not help when gases are released into the air. Tests from the onsite crew from the Washington Department of Ecology do not detect high levels of gases.
Continue following Grant County Sheriff’s Facebook page and Everbridge/Nixle for continued updates.
Commercial structure fire at Wilbur Ellis fertilizer plant near Moses Lake
This is a developing story and will be updated when more information is available.
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