Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

3.1 What Happened

3.1.1 Incident

On the Sunday morning of January 2, 2005, a report to the National Resource Center indicated an explosion and fire had occurred at the Teris LLC facility in El Dorado, Arkansas. The facility initially reported that an employee attempted to extinguish a small fire within a warehouse storing various waste containers, but that the fire soon grew out of control.

Response organizations (El Dorado Fire and Police Departments, as well as the Union County Sheriff’s Department) quickly responded. The El Dorado Fire Department was first on the scene and established an incident command to identify a strategy and response procedures for dealing with the emergency. Once the incident command was established, a phone tree was used to alert other emergency management entities and the Local Emergency Planning Committee. From the start of the incident, all involved entities knew who was in charge.

Fire fighting was conducted by Teris personnel on site. The El Dorado Fire Department established a position on the perimeter of the facility in case they were needed, but they did not enter the plant.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 dispatched an Airborne Spectral and Photographic Environmental Technology (ASPECT) plane to monitor the plume.

3.1.2 Evacuation

Approximately ½ hour after the incident, the incident commander determined that a mandatory evacuation was necessary, and the order was implemented. The 911 system received the evacuation order and contacted the media and the nursing homes to inform them of the evacuation. The 911 system operator had a specific contact list for the nursing homes.

Local responders closed nearby streets, as well as evacuated residents downwind from the facility. Exhibit 1 presents an approximate timeline.

Exhibit 1—Timeline for El Dorado Incident
Sunday, January 2, 2005 Event
8:00 Incident occurred
8:30 Decision to evacuate—mandatory evacuation
10:30 Evacuation completed
19:00 Local officials lifted part of the evacuation area
Monday, January 3, 2005 Event
16:00 All evacuations and road closures were lifted


The total time from the incident to the return of citizens was approximately 34 hours. The evacuation itself took approximately 2 hours for the nursing homes and approximately 2 hours for the other El Dorado residents. An estimated 500 El Dorado citizens were evacuated overnight.

February 6, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-014