Athens city leaders look to improve safety, zoning following fer - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Athens city leaders look to improve safety, zoning following fertilizer fire

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ATHENS (KYTX) - The city of Athens is evaluating new safety and zoning measures. This comes after a fertilizer storage facility fire that happened right in the center of town late last month. No one hurt, but the threat was enough to spark concern.

CBS 19's Katiera Winfrey was in Athens , for a city council meeting, where city leaders explained what changes people can expect.

At the top of that meeting, the first responders were recognized for their work in keeping the fire under control and preventing a fertilizer tragedy like the one in west, which killed 15 in an explosion. The safety and zoning plan, is still in it's infancy, but city leaders are taking several things into consideration as they develop a concrete plan.

Caution tape and ash still mark the spot where tragedy nearly struck.

"Until you have a catastrophe do you ever really look at things really hard."

On May 29th, a fertilizer plant in Athens caught fire, sparking fear and a mass evacuation.

John McQuery is the Athens fire chief. He said the building was lost, but lives were saved.

And that was the topic of discussion at a city council meeting.

"City leaders are at the stage of exploring and finding out what do we need to do to make this community safer,"McQuery said.

As of right now, no final plans have been set in motion. Mcquery said that will change, the city attorney has reached out to him to go over what the current safety standards require, and through that they'll develop what new safety measures would best suit the town.

"Whether to move them to the boarder line of the city or to get them where they can't go into the city or reduce their product they'll be looking at all those components to make a safer community."

He said, concern stretches further that just fertilizer plants carrying the explosive material ammonium nitrate.

"You have railroad, hazardous cargo going around the loop, inside the city loop you have gassing stations, you got underground petroleum products, we got industrial districts, so it's not just ammonium nitrate."

he says taking a hard look at what poses imminent danger, is where changes will be made.

Chief McQuery says with each tragedy something new is learned, so they'll be factoring in the Athens fire and even the west explosion to help determine what safety improvements will be best.

As of right now chief McQuery says there's no time line on when a final safety and zoning overhaul will be implemented,.

We'll keep up with this story and be sure to bring you updates.

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