WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) – The continuing blaze at Weaver Fertilizer will affect students at North Hills Elementary for another day and has led to a public health alert about possible contaminated waterways in the area.

North Hills is within the mandatory evacuation of a 1-mile radius of the fire that has raged for four days at 4440 N. Cherry St. Students will continue to have the option to learn remotely or in person with the North Hills staff at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Education Building, at 4801 Bethania Station Road, where 38 students attended classes on Wednesday and nearly 90 on Friday.

Meanwhile, rain falling on the 4-day-old fire and efforts to fight it may be combining to threaten the quality of water in that area, and the Forsyth County Health Department issued a water advisory for Monarcas, Mill and Muddy creeks. Residents are warned in a directive that came in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources to avoid ingesting or entering those bodies of water until further notice.

Aerial view of fertilizer plant fire
Aerial view of fertilizer plant fire

Those agencies cited a pending water quality investigation for Monarcas Creek and downstream sections of Mill and Muddy creeks and the Muddy Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Monarcas Creek abuts Weaver’s facility, and runoff from the rain and firefighting materials led to an investigation of the waterways and plant, the release said.

Monarcas Creek is the primary waterway affected. It flows into Mill Creek, which eventually flows into Muddy Creek.

Weaver Fertilizer fire evacuation area
Weaver Fertilizer fire evacuation area

Until the water is tested and declared safe, officials recommend:   

  • Avoiding swimming, wading or fishing in this section of Muddy Creek until further notice.  
  • Avoiding skin contact with water, soil and sediment in or near the river. 
  • If skin comes in contact with contaminated sediment or water, thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water. 
  • If you are concerned that you, your family and/or pets have been exposed to these waterways contact your health care provider or veterinarian. 

Residents who notice “plumes, sheens or fish kills” in these waterways are asked to call 336-776-9800.