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North Carolina Fertilizer Plant Still Burning, Ammonium Nitrate Explosion Danger Remains

North Carolina Explosion Lawyer | Winston-Salem Fertilizer Plant Still Burning

An out-of-control fire at a North Carolina fertilizer plant continues to burn today, with officials in Winston-Salem warning that the blaze could still trigger a catastrophic ammonium nitrate explosion.

Winston Weaver Fire Turned Entire Sky Orange

The Winston Weaver fertilizer plant fire ignited shortly before 7:00 p.m. on January 31st. Fire crews had been on the scene for just an hour and a half when the discovery of a rail car filled with ammonium nitrate forced them to pull back.

“We heard the explosion. It shook our house,” one nearby resident told WXII-12. “We weren’t sure what it was. I opened up my front door, and the entire sky was nothing but orange. I could see the flames shooting over the trees.”

Fortunately, all of the plant’s 36 workers have been accounted for, and no injuries were reported.

Winston-Salem Explosion Fears Force 6,500 to Evacuate

Ammonium nitrate is a highly volatile compound used in fertilizer, along with fireworks and explosives. According to officials in Winston-Salem, the plant contained a total of 600 tons of ammonium nitrate – more than three times the amount involved in the deadly explosion that destroyed West, Texas, in April 2013.

“I’ve been in this business 33 years, and when I learned how much ammonium nitrate was on site … I felt as uneasy at a fire scene as I’ve felt in my 33 years in this business,” Winston-Salem Fire Chief Trey Mayo told reporters on Tuesday.

Worried that the raging fire might trigger a similar catastrophe, authorities ordered roughly 6,500 people living within a mile of the Winston Weaver facility to evacuate their homes. This morning, they once again urged residents to avoid the area.

“There has been no improvement on scene; conditions have not improved,” a spokesperson for the city of Winston-Salem said during a press briefing at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. “The potential for an explosion is still there.”

Air quality warnings have also been issued for the city of Winston-Salem. Residents are advised to remain indoors, especially if they have underlying respiratory issues.

Extinguishing North Carolina Fertilizer Plant Fire Will be Slow Process

Winston Weaver Co. has been in business since 1929 and specializes in the manufacture of all-purpose plant foods and fertilizers. The company opened its Winston-Salem fertilizer plant in 1940. The facility is one of 500 plants licensed by the Department of Agriculture to make fertilizer in North Carolina and one of the biggest.

While Chief Mayo confirmed that the facility passed an inspection in December, he noted that the 80-year-old building was “grandfathered in” to specific code requirements it no longer meets. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Winston Weaver was fined $9,000 in 2014 after a worker performing repairs fell through the building’s roof.

An investigation is ongoing, but so far, it’s not known what caused the fire.

It’s also not clear when evacuees will be able to return. With firefighters still unable to reach the scene, extinguishing the blaze will likely be a slow process.

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If you and your family were impacted by the Winston-Salem fertilizer plant explosion, please call 1-888-603-3636 or click here to fill out our confidential contact form.

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