WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — An uncontrolled fire raging at a North Carolina fertilizer plant forced the evacuations of thousands of people as firefighters warned early Tuesday that chemicals at the site could cause a large explosion.
According to WXII-TV in Winston-Salem, the fire was reported at the Weaver Fertilizer Plant at 7 p.m. ET on Monday night.
Early Tuesday morning, authorities drove through neighborhoods, knocked on doors, and asked residents to evacuate within a one-mile radius of the plant.
The Winston-Salem Fire Department said the evacuation area included about 6,500 people in 2,500 homes. WXII reports that residents have been urged to stay away from their homes for 48 hours.
According to WGHP-TV in High Point, North Carolina, the local fire chief estimated that there are a total of 600 tons of ammonium nitrate on the premises, and thousands of tons of finished fertilizer, prompting fears of a potential explosion.
Fire officials are also urging nearby residents to stay inside if possible, citing air quality concerns.
WGHP reported that a local elementary school within the evacuation zone declared a remote learning day.
Bright orange flames could be seen shooting into the sky along with thick plumes of smoke as lights from fire trucks and other first responder vehicles surrounded the fully engulfed building.
WGHP reports that 90 firefighters and 150 other emergency personnel are at the scene.