American Plant Food Corporation plant fire contained as crews work to clear smolder in Bartlett

Published: Aug. 20, 2023 at 10:11 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2023 at 10:36 AM CDT
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BARTLETT, Texas (KWTX) - The American Plant Food Corporation fertilizer plant fire has been contained, and the air quality is deemed good as Hazmat crews continue work to clean up the site of the fire, and firefighters work to clear the smolder, authorities said.

Barlett Mayor Chad Mees and Barlett Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Steven Wentrcek on Monday said the fire department received the call about the fire at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 20 at the plant located at 9901 North Highway 95 Bartlett.

Fire Chief Steven Wentrcek said that when crews arrived at the scene, the building was fully engulfed and help was sought from departments in surrounding areas.

Firefighters worked to contain a six acre grass fire that was the result of the fire at the plant. Back at the site of the plant, crews decided to let the fire burn out overnight once it was contained.

Water was not used to extinguish the blaze because of hazardous chemicals from the plant, and to protect the environment surrounding the plant, the fire chief said.

“Hazard crew were on site all night, including Temple who was monitoring overnight until Round Rock hazard crews came to relieve them,” said Wentrcek.

Multiple fire agencies including Holland and Granger responded to the fire as well as Bell and Williamson County as Barlett is split between the two.

“This is a pure definition of mutual aid especially for a small town like ours,” said Mayor Mees when discussing the different agencies who came to help.

Highway 95 remains open and the Bartlett Independent School District did not cancel classes on Monday, the district announced on Facebook.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Emergency Management were on the scene as TCEQ tested the air quality and provided guidacen to fire crews about how to protect the surrounding environment.

American Plant Food Corporation Fertilizer Plant

The American Plant Food Corporation has 11 different locations across Texas, including the Bartlett plant that opened in the early 1990s.

Mayor Mees stated in the press conference, the plant was a fertilizer for all the area farmers in Central Texas and was vital to the local community.

Previously to the fire, the Barlett Volunteer Fire Department made a plan with the plant in case a fire were to happen, according to Fire Chief Wentrcek.

A representative from the company was on the scene and called the hazmat restoration crew to properly dispose of the material.

What Now?

The Williamson County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.

The first phase of cleanup is cleaning the smolder of the fire, as the full cleanup would take an estimated week or month, the fire chief stated.

The air quality continues to be monitored by the TCEQ.

Fertilizer plant in Bartlett engulfed in flames
Fertilizer plant in Bartlett engulfed in flames(Milam County Sheriff's Office Sheriff Mike Core)