Fertilizer factory fire may cause explosion, area evacuation

Winston-Salem, NC – The city of Winston-Salem is asking people within one mile of a raging fertilizer factory fire to evacuate due to the possibility of a large explosion.

WGHP-TV reported that the fire started Monday night at the Weaver fertilizer plant on North Cherry Street. City officials confirmed that there had been small explosions at the factory.

Firefighters say there is a possibility of a large explosion of ammonium nitrate. Trey Mayo, chief of firefighting at Winston-Salem, says fire crews have “abandoned” the firefighting operation due to the large volume of ammonium nitrate at the site.

The building has also collapsed, and access to the product located in the building has been restricted, according to a WGHP report.

Firefighters cannot flow enough water to reasonably be sure that they can keep it cool enough to prevent an explosion. The cause of the fire is unknown.

Don’t wait for something to happen. “Something has happened,” Mayo said on Twitter. “It’s time to get out now.”

At around 2am, paramedics were driving through the area and telling residents to leave to safety as the danger of an explosion still loomed.

According to a Winston-Salem Police Department press release, 4,400 Cherry Streets from North Point Boulevard to Indiana Street were closed while emergency crews responded to the fire around 8:20 p.m. and remain closed.

Wake Forest University issued a statement asking some students in off-campus housing to voluntarily vacate. The university also said it was working on long-term plans for those who had no alternative place to go.

“The evacuation area at approximately 4440 North Cherry Street has approximately 6,500 residents or 2,497 families,” the city of Winston-Salem said on its Twitter page.

Evacuees should plan to stay away from their homes for up to 48 hours.

Injuries have been reported.

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