Winston-Salem in North Carolina saw a fire break out at a fertilizer plant on North Cherry Street and authorities have been notifying residents within a one-mile distance to evacuate the premises. The fire started on Monday night at the Weaver Fertilizer Plant.
Responders claimed the fire fumes could be seen into the sky as firefighters and their vehicles surrounded the area, trying to contain the raging blaze. Approximately 90 firefighters and 100+ agents from other departments responded to the fire at the North Carolina plant t 8:20 p.m. on Monday. The entire area within the 4400 block from Cherry Street, North Point Boulevard towards Indiana Avenue had been closed for emergency purposes.
Officials recently confirmed the area is still closed as they are dealing with a potential escalation in case the fire causes further harm. Patrick Grubbs, Chief of Winston-Salem Battalion confirmed to the press they have not ruled out a likely explosion, caused by the fire. “We won’t be leaving the area anytime soon. We want to make sure that right now we’re evacuating everybody in this one-mile radius. There is still a potential for explosion,” while simultaneously warning people to stay out of the area due to the bad air quality index.
There is reportedly a large amount of ammonium nitrate at the location, which has been identified as the likely cause for the potential explosion. Fire Chief Trey Mayo even said many firefighters knowingly left the area and their duties due to the threat of ammonium nitrate.
A resident from the Winston-Salem area in North Carolina, Michelle Shepherd told the press that she did not wait for an evacuation order to leave her house, as she heard, felt, and saw the explosions of fire and its flames. “We felt big explosions. The entire house shook. And I looked out my front door and I could see the orange glow.”
The fertilizer plant itself was closed with no employees at the premises when the fire started. Officials have notified residents of the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds where a shelter has been set up for the evacuees. People who have been evacuated are advised to stay away from the area for 48 hours until further announcements are made.