WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — People within one mile from a blaze in Winston-Salem at the Weaver Fertilizer Plant on North Cherry Street are being asked to evacuate by the City of Winston-Salem due to the possibility of an explosion.
The evacuation location is the Education Building at the Fairgrounds at 414 Deacon Boulevard, city officials say.
People who have evacuated should plan to be away from their homes for up to 48 hours.
The fire started at the Weaver Fertilizer Plant on 4440 North Cherry Street on Monday night. City officials confirmed small explosions at the plant.
Firefighters say there is the potential for a large explosion of ammonium nitrate. Winston-Salem Fire Chief Trey Mayo says fire crews “abandoned” the fire-fighting operation because of the large volume of ammonium nitrate on site.
They could not flow enough volume of water to be reasonably certain that they could keep it cool enough to prevent a detonation.
The building has collapsed as well, and access to the product that is in the building is restricted.
The 4400 block of Cherry Street from North Point Boulevard to Indiana Avenue was closed while emergency crews responded to the fire around 8:20 p.m. and remains closed, according to a Winston-Salem Police Department news release.
Wake Forest University released a statement asking some students in off-campus housing to voluntarily evacuate. The full statement is provided below:
“Because of a fire at 4440 N. Cherry Street, the Winston-Salem Fire Department is asking for voluntary evacuations by residents within a one-mile radius of that address. That includes off-campus housing north of Polo Road between Cherry Street and Long Drive. (See image of one-mile radius.) On-campus housing is not included in the evacuation.
Any faculty, staff or students in the area who can evacuate should do so. If possible, stay with friends or family who are outside the one-mile radius. The University is currently working on long-term plans for those who do not have an alternative place to go, and those plans will be communicated as soon as possible.
Campus buildings that are currently open include the Wellbeing Center, Benson University Center and ZSR Library. You may wish to bring a sleeping bag, pillow, and/or blanket to be comfortable if the evacuation lasts more than a short time. You may consider taking necessary personal belongings needed for several hours should the evacuation remain in place.
Motorists are also advised to avoid driving in this area.
Students on campus or living outside of the one-mile radius are encouraged to stay indoors and keep their windows closed.
The best source of information about the fire is the official Twitter page for the Winston-Salem Fire Department: @cityofwsfire.”
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
No injuries have been reported.
Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is asked to call the WSPD at (336) 773-7700, Crime Stoppers at (336) 727-2800, or En Espanol (336) 728-3904. You can also view “Crime Stoppers of Winston-Salem Forsyth County” on Facebook.