Local industries assist with recent fire emergencies

Published 1:20 pm Friday, September 29, 2023

Special to the American Press

Recent wildfires have swept through Southwest Louisiana due to the continued drought and high temperatures.

The Southwest Louisiana Mutual Aid Association joins together emergency teams from across Southwest Louisiana, including those associated with local industries. Several local industries assisted in the recent firefighting efforts. “One of the assets we have in our area, thanks to local industries, are access to their safety and emergency response crews and resources,” explains Jim Rock, executive director of Lake Area Industry Alliance. “They receive ongoing emergency response training. Industries have these capabilities should they be needed to protect employees and equipment, and they also use these resources to protect our communities.”

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In late August, the emergency response team with Citgo Lake Charles was called by the SWLA Mutual Aid Association requesting assistance and utilization of CITGO’s E-1 foam pumper for
the fire in the Merryville area.

“We are thankful to be able to lend out reams’ expertise to aid in emergency situations, especially those that directly affect our community and employees,” says Sterling Neblett, Citgo vice president and general manager. “In addition to hands-on equipment support, Citgo was able to provide a $15,000 donation to United Way of Southwest Louisiana which was used to provide food to residents who lost power for an extended period of time.”’

Phillips 66 Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex was also called by mutual aid to assist in the incident command function for the fires in the Singer and Merryville areas. At the time, over 13,000 acres were burning; the response team was deployed to provide coverage for homes in the fire zone.

“Phillips 66 deployed a fire engine, rapid attack vehicle, and manpower to the incident,” explains Chris Dailey, emergency response team lead and fire chief with Phillips 66. “We assisted with multiple calls for woods and grass fires across southern Beauregard Parish.”

While working that emergency, the Phillips 66 emergency response team expanded to cover an additional call from mutual aid for a major grass fire; the request specified the use of Phillips
66’s air operations drone team to provide greater visibility. The drone was used to help Westlake Fire Department locate hot spots and see the size of the fire area.

“I’m proud of the excellent work by our Phillips 66 emergency response team. These volunteers showed their support for the community and working for the greater good,” says Dan
Toperosky, Phillips 66 HSE manager.

Members of the Sasol Emergency Response Team were also deployed by request to assist with firefighting efforts both in Beauregard Parish and in Westlake. In addition, Sasol donated
$10,000 used to provide first responders with needed supplies. “Sasol is committed to supporting first responders, local governments and non-profit organizations as they fight to contain fires in our neighboring communities,” says Eric Walker, vice president of operations with Sasol. “Southwest Louisiana is home to our more than 800 employees, and our heartfelt thoughts are with everyone affected by the wildfires, including the firefighters and other responders working tirelessly in challenging conditions.”