Three-alarm fire at Dow Chemical Co in east Charlotte ruled accidental

Credit: Charlotte Fire Department
Credit: Charlotte Fire Department

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A three-alarm fire that broke out at a chemical company in east Charlotte Wednesday morning has been ruled accidental.

The fire occurred on the 6100 block of Orr Road at Dow Chemical Company. Hazmat officials were called in to assist with the fire. Employees were evacuated to a safe location.

The Charlotte Fire Department tweeted a video of heavy smoke that could be seen coming from the company.

Firefighters were able to control the fire within 40 minutes. Crews said over 50 firefighters were able to control the blaze.

Most of the area is industrial, so employees from nearby businesses were told to stay inside and make sure the windows and doors were shut.

People who hadn't got to work yet had to wait until the roads reopened. One man who works for a nearby business said the visibility was so poor he wouldn't have been able to drive safely anyway.

"It was just smoke, it was thick white smoke. It was pouring out, fast and when I finally got to go around the corner it was still smoldering," Avery Markum said.

Dow Chemical sent out a statement Wednesday morning about the incident.

At approximately 7:30 a.m. a fire occurred in a warehouse at our Charlotte, NC site. Emergency services responded and the fire is out.  All employees have been accounted for and there are no injuries.  As a precaution, we have engaged with local emergency response agencies to evacuate nearby neighbors.  We will continue to work closely with all agencies to ensure the site and the surrounding community remains safe.  An investigation is already under way to determine the cause of the incident.

No one was injured, and officials say no chemicals were exposed from the fire.

The chemical plant was last inspected in June and no violations were found during the inspection. According to a report from the US Environmental Protection Agency, no violations were issued against the plant within the past three years.

The Charlotte Fire Department said Wednesday afternoon that the fire was ruled an accident.

"The cause was due to an thermal reaction inside a drum that contained divinylbenzene, in which the drum over pressurized and caught fire," Charlotte Fire Department officials said. "The fire was contained inside the flammable storage container. All chemical safety systems worked and contained the fire until fire department arrival."

There is no word on damage estimates.

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