04/27/09 — 25 fire departments fight warehouse blaze

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25 fire departments fight warehouse blaze

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 27, 2009 1:46 PM

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A platform fire truck sprays water onto a fire late Sunday night at a Southern Produce warehouse on N.C. 50/403 just west of Faison. Fire fighters from 25 departments from Duplin, Wayne and Sampson counties responded to the fire at the 40,000-square-foot building. More than 100 firefighters were still at the scene this morning and were expected to remain throughout the day. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire had not been determined as of presstime.

FAISON -- Firefighters from 25 departments from across Duplin, Wayne and Sampson counties this morning continued to battle an overnight storage warehouse fire on N.C. 50/403 just west of the downtown area.

There have been no injuries reported and it is believed that no one was inside the building when the blaze started shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday.

The inside of the 40,000-square-foot Southern Produce warehouse is about 30 feet high and filled floor to ceiling with crates of sweet potatoes, Brian Pearce, Duplin County Emergency Services director, said this morning in a telephone interview from the scene of the fire.

Pearce, who had been on the scene all night, said it is too early to tell what sparked the blaze.

A neighbor saw smoke coming from the building and walked over to look, Pearce said. After seeing the fire, the neighbor called in the alarm around 9:40 p.m.

Meanwhile, smoke from the fire had blanketed portions of southern Wayne County, including Mount Olive.

The metal warehouse is not burning itself, rather it is the crates stored in side, Pearce said.

"We have seen some flames, but it is more of a smoldering, smoky fire," he said.

Complicating the firefighters' job is that the warehouse is attached to two or three other buildings, he said.

At one point during the night, 25 different departments were fighting the fire. Around 20 departments remained this morning at 7 a.m., with 40 fire engines and some 100 firefighters. Tower trucks from Mount Olive, Belfast and Dudley remained set up and operational as well.

Several streets remained blocked and the Highway Patrol and Duplin County Sheriff's Office provided traffic and crowd control.

Duplin County EMS responded as well, but there have been no injuries.

Several of the volunteer departments had begun rotating out this morning, and Duplin departments that did not respond last night were to be coming in.

By 4 a.m., roughly 500,000 gallons of water had been flowed. Pearce expects that total to easily reach 1 million gallons. Goshen Swamp is serving as a water source.

"There have been a lot of people helping out and the majority are volunteers," Pearce said. "It is just phenomenal."

Firefighters were expected to remain on scene for the remainder of the day, and it is expected that investigators will spend the next couple of days trying to determine the origin of the fire.