Owner: Production back after Louisiana sugar refinery fire

Louisiana
St. Bernard firefighters battle a 3-alarm fire after silos caught fire at the century-old Domino Sugar Refinery in Arabi, La., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (David Grunfeld/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP)

St. Bernard firefighters battle a 3-alarm fire after silos caught fire at the century-old Domino Sugar Refinery in Arabi, La., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (David Grunfeld/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP)

ARABI, La. (AP) — The owner of a Louisiana cane sugar refinery said production has resumed after a fire late last month that hit two silos but caused no injuries.

American Sugar Refining Inc. said in a news release Thursday that Domino Sugar’s Chalmette Refinery outside New Orleans was closed for four days after the fire but resumed production Sept. 1. The refinery was making all of its products by Sept. 3 but is not yet back to full production, a company statement said.

The fire broke out Aug. 27 as crews prepared to reopen the 111-year-old plant after shutting down late Aug. 22 because two hurricanes appeared headed toward the state.

Flames burned two silos but did not spread elsewhere, Thursday’s statement said.

All 420 employees returned to the work Aug. 31 at the plant, which is in unincorporated Arabi about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from Chalmette.

Most products are shipped to customers or outside warehouses as they are produced, so the refinery will keep operating and will increase operating days to meet demand during repairs, the statement said.

Owners say the plant is the largest cane sugar refinery in the Western Hemisphere. In addition to granulated sugar, some of its other products are confectioners sugar, brown sugar, soft sugar, liquid sugar and molasses, and specialty products such as pourable light brown sugar.

“First and foremost, we are grateful that our safety protocols ensured no injuries occurred,” said Luis Fernandez, co-president of ASR Group, which includes American Sugar Refining Inc.

Fernandez also said he was pleased with the response of employees in Louisiana, adding they “overcame a major challenge at the Chalmette Refinery and began producing our signature products within days.”

He said other North American plants filled orders that ordinarily would have come from the Chalmette refinery.

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This version corrects a statement that the refinery is back to full production. It is not, though it is producing its full range of products.

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