Fire Erupts at North Carolina Fertilizer Plant, Thousands Evacuated

by Amanda Glover

After a frightening fire at a fertilizer plant, authorities asked at least 6,000 people to evacuate their homes for fear of explosion.

The fire took place early Tuesday morning at the Winston Weaver Company fertilizer plant. According to Winston-Salem Fire Department Battalion Chief Patrick Grubbs, the fire was still active as of around 4:30 a.m. EST.

In a Twitter statement shared by the Winston-Salem Police Department, Fire Chief Trey Mayo urged residents not to “wait for something to happen.” He urged residents to quickly evacuate as something already did happen.

Followers of the event share their gratitude for the firefighters in the comments and express their fear for the residents.

According to officials, the fire broke out on Monday morning. However, they do not yet know what caused the incident. At least ninety firefighters fought to keep the community safe. Thankfully, as of Tuesday, no injuries have been reported.

According to Grubbs, two hours into the fire, it began affecting a rail car. Once the fire reached the rail car, he said, “it became an explosive hazard,” with the potential for an explosion of ammonium nitrate. Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound. The material is used as a source of nitrogen for fertilizer. It is also used to create explosives for mining. Grubbs also said that first responders had been going door-to-door, telling residents to evacuate their homes.”

More On the Winston-Salem Fire As Residents Evacuate

On Monday night, authorities say that the fire is an eruptive situation with a “fairly high” chance of an explosion.

At one point, fire trucks drove down each road in the evacuation zone. They also used a public address system to urge residents to evacuate. He warned residents of poor air quality and asked that people call 911 only if they were experiencing an emergency.

According to Grubbs, a fire truck sits at the backside of the building to put out the fire. However, there is no fire staff. He also said that the fire department is entering the scene every 15 to 20 minutes using drones.

At the time of the explosion at the West Fertilizer Company facility in Texas in 2013, the Winston-Salem fertilizer plant stores ten times more ammonium nitrate.

Along with the facility, the explosion caused extensive damage to surrounding areas, such as a close apartment building and nearby nursing homes. Even though many of the nursing home residents received wounds from flying glass, emergency personnel on the scene determined that most of these injuries were not life-threatening.

The Texas explosion took the lives of fifteen people, injured many, and took out hundreds of homes. Investigators confirmed criminal acts caused the event.