Fiery explosion at Arkansas meat plant

Nearby homes had to be evacuated
March 23, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A meat packing plant exploded Sunday afternoon, injuring an unknown number of people and forcing homes to be evacuated because ammonia gas leaked into the air, state officials said. Flames poured out of the Cargill Meat Solutions plant just after 2 p.m., witnesses said.

It wasn't immediately known how many homes were evacuated in the western Arkansas town of 4,000, emergency management spokeswoman Renee Preslar said.

A hazardous materials team from Sebastian County was heading to Booneville, Preslar said

Meredith Voges, 22, of Connecticut, said she heard the explosion while staying at a hotel just behind the plant. Voges, a member of a film crew shooting footage for a television program about a Booneville school principal, said hotel staff and police urged everyone to leave the area.

"The whole factory was ablaze with black smoke flying into the air, plumes of smoke," Voges said.

Booneville is about 90 miles northwest of Little Rock.