Static Electricity Cause of North
Carolina Chemical Plant Fire
May 10, 2004
NC-- More than 150 firefighters battled a 4-alarm fire at Reagents
Inc., on Sweeden Road around 1:45 p.m. Thursday. The blaze caused
extensive damage to the manufacturing and distributing company for
hospitals, industries and governmental agencies.
Workers at the facility were dispensing
a flammable liquid from a large container into a smaller container
when a static electricity discharge occurred igniting the
vapors. A supervisor called 9-1-1 while some employees tried to
smother the fire and use water.
All 18 employees at the plant were
unharmed, however, three firefighters were treated for chemical
burns but were back on duty Thursday evening.
Authorities closed parts of several
roads near the plant while the fire was being contained, and also
recommended that people stay away and stay indoors.
On Friday morning, firefighters ripped
open what was left of the roof in order to get a closer look at
the chemical damage. They said that even though they found some
particles in the air, none is toxic.
All firefighters who were inside the
plant had to go through a decontamination process to make sure that
any chemicals picked up at the scene stayed at the scene. Medic
was on the scene to monitor firefighters, too.
The blaze did an estimated $750,000
The Charlotte Fire Department Fire
Prevention Bureau is reviewing the storage and dispensing procedures
used at the facility. Reagents Inc., has not been issued a citation.
Hepaco, an environmental contracting service, is in charge of cleanup.