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North Carolina Fertilizer Plant Fire Forces Thousands to Evacuate, Explosion Threat Looms

North Carolina Plant Explosion Lawyer | Winston-Salem Fertilizer Plant Fire Evacuations

Thousands of people in North Carolina fled their homes last night shortly after a fire erupted at a Winston-Salem fertilizer plant.

The evacuation order that prompted their exodus remains in effect today, with officials warning that the still-active blaze could trigger a catastrophic explosion.

Winston Weaver Plant Fire Raises Fears of Ammonium Nitrate Explosion

The massive inferno at the Winston Weaver Co. facility, located at 4440 Cherry North Cherry Street, broke out at approximately 7:00 p.m. on January 31st.

Fire crews spent an hour and a half using elevated trucks to pour water down on the burning building. Unfortunately, they pulled back after a rail car filled with highly volatile ammonium nitrate was discovered on the property. It was then that the evacuations began.

“Right now, the fire is still active, and there’s still potential for explosion. We’re asking all the citizens to evacuate the area for a 1-mile radius around it,” said Winston-Salem Fire Department Battalion Chief Patrick Grubbs said early Tuesday, according to CNN. “We do not know the full extent of the time we’ll be here. It will not be anytime soon that we’ll be leaving.”

6,000+ Evacuated, Including Wake Forest Students and Forsyth Prison Inmates

Firefighters drove down every road within the evacuation zone, using a public address system to urge residents to leave. The evacuation order impacted nearly 2,500 homes and more than 6,000 people, including students at Wake Forest University and more than 200 inmates from the nearby Forsyth Correctional Center.

The city opened an evacuation center in the Education Building at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds. Wake Forest University canceled Tuesday classes and opened several buildings for students, faculty, and staff who had nowhere else to go. The Forsythe inmates were transferred to Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, about 90 minutes west of Winston-Salem.

Emergency officials told evacuees to prepare to be away for at least 48 hours. Air quality warnings have also been issued, and Winston-Salem residents are being asked not to call 911 unless they’re experiencing an emergency.

The Winston Weaver facility was entirely engulfed when the evacuation order came, and a wall of flame and thick black smoke was visible for miles. Popping noises could be heard from inside the plant, indicating items were igniting in the blaze. A drone flying over the burning building has already confirmed “small explosions.

So far, no injuries have been reported.

600 Tons of Ammonium Nitrate Located at Winston Weaver Plant

According to its website, Winston Weaver Co. was founded in 1929 in Norfolk, Virginia, while the Winston-Salem plant opened in 1940. The company specializes in all-purpose plant foods and fertilizers, and its products are sold at Lowe’s stores and throughout the northeast.

In addition to being one of the most common fertilizers in the world, ammonium nitrate is also highly volatile and a component of many explosives used in the mining industry. If exposed to intense heat, it can trigger an explosion.

Officials in North Carolina confirmed that the Winston Weaver plant stored 500 tons of ammonium nitrate when the fire erupted. An additional 100 tons were being held in the rail car. In total, it’s more than 3-times the amount involved in the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion that tragically killed 15 people, injured 160 others, and caused more than $100 million in property damages in April 2013.

As CNN pointed out, Winston-Salem is far more densely populated than rural West, Texas.

In addition to being highly explosive, ammonium nitrate fumes can also irritate the respiratory tract, lungs, and heart. Winston-Salem officials continue to monitor air quality and are urging residents to remain indoors and avoid strenuous activity, especially children and those suffering from heart or respiratory problems.

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Our Undefeated Plant Explosion Lawyers are monitoring the situation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and will post an update if new information becomes available.

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If you or someone you love suffered injuries due to the Winston Weaver fertilizer plant explosion, our attorneys are ready to help. Please call 1-888-603-3636 or click here to fill out our confidential contact form.

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