A serious fire at the Winston Weaver Company fertilizer facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has forced nearly 6,500 residents to flee their homes.
The fire, which started late Monday night, is dangerous because the plant's chemicals could trigger a big explosion that could level everything within a 1-mile radius of the facility. The plant has 500 tons of ammonium nitrate, about twice as much as the fertilizer plant fire in West, Texas, in 2013, which killed 15 people. After the fire spread to an adjacent railcar carrying another 100 tons of the chemical, firefighters evacuated from the scene.
Winston Salem Fire Cheif, Trey Mayo, did not understate the severity of the situation on Tuesday during a press conference when he said "this is potentially the largest explosion in U.S. History." Governor Cooper visited Winston Salem on Wednesday. The North Carolina Emergency Management Team is on the scene and is working closely with federal officials from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is advising everyone in Winston Salem to wear a mask at all times when outside due to the rapidly declining air quality.
Fertilizers and explosives are made with ammonium nitrate, which speeds up the burning of combustible materials. It was more recently responsible for the 218-person death toll in Beirut's 2020 explosion (involving 2,700 tons of the chemical).
There have been no reports of injuries, and as of this morning, officials had no idea what caused the fire. Nearby Wake Forest University has canceled classes and advised students to remain indoors. Officials are monitoring the situation closely and doing everything in their power to control the fire.
Can you think of some things that we can do to help our Winston Salem Community as real estate agents? Comment them below or share them with a colleague in an upcoming CE Class!