Damage too severe to determine cause of chemical plant fire - | WBTV Charlotte

Damage too severe to determine cause of chemical plant fire

HUDSON, NC (WBTV) - Fire officials released Wednesday that the explosion and fire at Chemical Coatings, Inc. on Hickory Boulevard in Hudson on Saturday was caused by an undetermined origin.

Hudson Fire Chief Tommy Courtner said there were two major factors that played a part in their conclusion. 

The first is that no one was at the plant at the time of the incident, so there are no eyewitness' to the origin or possible cause.

Second, the damage was so severe that it was impossible to locate the source of the fire within the remains of the storage building.

Cleanup has been underway since the chemical manufacturing plant exploded and caught fire, prompting an evacuation over the weekend.

Emergency officials were called out to the scene after an explosion ripped through the plant. 

Photo Gallery
Click here to view a photo gallery of the plant explosion and clean-up

 

A six-alarm fire burned in the Caldwell County plant throughout the afternoon, forcing a number of people to evacuate their homes and businesses for a short time.  Highway 321 was also shut down for several hours on Saturday.

Emergency Management officials asked the EPA to step-in and oversee the process to ensure there is no negative environmental impact.  Crews started the clean-up process on Sunday.

The plant supplies coating solutions for furniture manufactures and has been in the area since 1975.

Amy Roop says she was in the area and spotted smoke and called 911. Within no time she says flames were shooting skyward. She says she heard loud explosions and saw tin drums shoot a hundred feet in the air.

Local firefighters were on the scene within six minutes.

Chris Story says he's been inside the plant. He says many of the chemicals there are highly flammable.

"When the nitrous cellulose went it up – it's very flammable – at that point it spread really quick – set two other upholstery businesses on fire – lost one building on RPM storage," Courtner said.

Courtner said the damage could've been worse. At one point the winds started to shift and firefighters feared the plant's tank farm would catch fire. The storage area was completely destroyed and the two upholstery businesses are a complete loss.

Every available fire crew in the area was being called into to assist battling the blaze and officials evacuated people living in the area. Just before 9 p.m., those people were allowed back home.

Chemists were called in to help determine the best way to handle and dispose of the chemicals. EPA said air quality in the area was clear.

The plant was not operating at the time of the fire.

Two firefighters were treated at a local hospital for heat-related illnesses but later released.

Courtner credits emergency planning and training for saving the main portion of the building.

Firefighters remained at the scene for most of Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

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