WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — The Piney Grove community has not forgotten what happened in their neighborhood one year ago on Tuesday.
The fire at the Winston Weaver Fertilizer Plant changed many people’s lives.
On Tuesday night, community members gathered for a prayer service to reflect on what’s happened and look forward to what’s to come.
Not much remains of the plant except a sign, but the community is standing. That’s what they’re holding onto. They know the fire could’ve been a lot worse, and they’re glad it wasn’t.
“In this community, we have favor, and we are very thankful that no one lost their life on the 31st,” said Vanda Thomas, who lives near the plant.
It was Jan. 31, 2022.
“I saw the flames. People standing on the side of the road. The firemen up in the in the air,” said Sabrina Webster, who organized the prayer service. “The fire seemed like it was just touching the sky. It was just unbelievable.”
When the plant caught fire, sending flames and smoke into the air, thousands of people were forced out of their homes.
“I grabbed everyone in my family, and we went to a hotel,” Thomas said. “I left everything I owned in my home because I was so scared.”
Now, the fear has turned into gratitude. Nearly 50 people filled the pews of the Piney Grove Baptist Church on Tuesday night to celebrate how far the community has come over the past year.
“We’ve learned to give you thanks in spite of what we’ve been going through,” the pastor said.
The service started with a prayer.
“For protecting us and keeping us because so many things could’ve happened, and we want to say thank you,” the pastor said.
Then a soloist sang a hymn called “God Be the Glory.” Dozens of people were praising through the pain.
One year later, many people still have unanswered questions.
“Why did this happen?” Webster said. “Who actually owned the Weaver Fertilizer Plant? What about OSHA? What about the federal government? All of this could have been prevented.”
They want their questions answered.
“We have people from different diverse backgrounds that are going to work very hard for this community and the surrounding communities to get answers about all of the questions that we have concerning the Weaver Plant fire,” Thomas said.
Several people who attended the service told FOX8 they’re planning on going to a meeting on Wednesday night where community leaders will provide an update on the fire. That includes talking about a study being done to examine its effects on people living in this area.