February 1, 2022 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Massive North Carolina Chemical Plant Blaze Forces Evacuations

chemical plant

A fire at a North Carolina chemical plant forced thousands of people out of their homes over fears of a giant explosion.

As flames erupted at the fertilizer plant in Winston Salem, fire crews on the scene pulled back, setting up a one-mile evacuation radius once they realized what was stored there. Winston-Salem Fire Department Chief Trey Mayo observed, “The risk that is posed by this facility is that it stores ammonium nitrate and there could be between 300 and 600 tons of ammonium nitrate in this facility.” 

Authorities stated that the fire is a volatile situation with a “fairly high” chance of an explosion

The massive blaze at Weaver Fertilizer Plant was discovered before 7:00 p.m., Monday, January 31, 2022, in the 4400 block of Cherry Street in downtown Winston-Salem. Concern stemming from the risk of an explosion caused the evacuation of more than 6,500 residents; currently, the evacuations are in place for up to 48 hours. 

Due to the release into the atmosphere of high concentrations of the ammonium nitrate and other aerosols from the fertilizer, meteorologists have warned that the air could be unhealthy for some people. The warnings carry weightier significance for the danger of exposure for certain people resulting in complications in the lungs, respiratory tract, and heart. 

The Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection said it is monitoring the blaze.

Source: NowCast WXII 12, “Winston-Salem fire: Explosion feared at fertilizer plant, thousands of residents urged to evacuate,” 4:30 p.m., Feb. 1, 2022, update.

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