Warehouse fire near Byran controlled and residents allowed back

BRYAN, Texas (AP) - Officials believe a welding job likely sparked a fire at a central Texas chemical plant that forced thousands of people from their homes and closed Texas A&M University's main campus.

John Salsman with Brazos County emergency management said Friday the investigation is continuing but "the best information we have" indicates the blaze started during a welding job at the El Dorado Chemic Co. warehouse.

All evacuation orders are lifted, but fire fighters continue to keep an eye on a smoldering Central Texas fertilizer warehouse.  That's a day after a raging fire prompted Brazos County and Bryan officials to order the city of 80,000 and adjacent areas to be evacuated.

It threatened to ignite explosive ammonium nitrate used as a fertilizer ingredient.  Texas A&M University closed its main campus in nearby College Station, and hospitals treated 34 people, mostly for smoke inhalation or eye irritation.

Officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality are doing an environmental assessment of the site Friday.

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