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Explosions at bomb plant force Louisiana town to flee

DOYLINE, La. -- More than 10 explosions rocked a bomb recycling plant in northwestern Louisiana yesterday, forcing the evacuation of an entire town and more than 400 prisoners from a nearby jail, authorities said.

No injuries or deaths were reported.

A fire at the Explo Systems Inc. site at Camp Minden triggered a major explosion involving two military bombs about 8:30 a.m., State Police said.

In the ensuing hours, more than 10 explosions -- some intense, some minor -- went off inside the plant as the fire continued to burn and thick smoke billowed from the plant, authorities said.

Authorities evacuated Doyline, a town of 800 people 22 miles east of Shreveport, closed two schools and emptied the Webster Parish jail, said Bobby Igo, chief deputy for the Webster Parish sheriff.

By midafternoon, the fire apparently was dying down as rain fell and authorities planned to let it burn itself out. Igo said emergency workers would not venture into the plant site until at least eight hours after explosions stopped.

``It's all safe and secure at this time," Igo said.

All of the employees inside the plant escaped after the fire broke out and before the first explosion, Igo said.

The company employs 60 people, but it was not known how many were inside the plant, said Lieutenant Colonel Carl Thompson, assistant commander of Camp Minden.

Two major highways near Camp Minden remained closed, although State Police reopened Interstate 20 to traffic after about six hours.

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