MOORESBORO, NC (FOX Carolina) – Early Monday morning officials issued an evacuation warning for residents within a half mile radius of the American Zinc Products Plant in Mooresboro.
Deputies with the sheriff’s office are going door to door to get citizens evacuated after a fire at the plant has become hazardous, releasing sulfuric acid into the air.
Assistant Fire Marshall John Greenway with the Rutherford County Fire Department said that an initial evacuation shelter had been established at Chase Middle School.
It was later Monday morning that Superintendent Janet Mason said the shelter had been moved to Chase High School auxiliary gymnasium. The superintendent said the shelter could be operated there without closing the school.
Greenway said,”The concerns are not necessarily the zinc. The concern is that sulfuric acid has been released. We’re in the beginning stages of investigation the scene. We’ve had the decontamination firemen out here and their gear tested positive as hazardous so we have contained the fire to the building.”
At this time, first responders are waiting to evaluate how to safely get the fire out after those firefighter’s uniforms tested positive for hazardous materials.
The call for the fire at the plant, which lies near the state line between North and South Carolina, initially came in Sunday evening.
Rutherford County dispatchers confirm that Cliffside FD was leading the response at the American Zinc Products Plant in Mooresboro on Hicks Grove Road.
Chesnee Community FD confirmed on Facebook they were responding alongside other units from Spartanburg County in South Carolina.
According to Capt. Bill Greene of Ellenboro Fire Department, crews responded around 8 p.m. to the plant, noting that flames rose as high as possibly 75 feet into the air. Greene says EFD was one of about 15 crews that responded to the plant, with more than 100 firefighters tackling the blaze.
Greene notes they had the top half of the plant under control during our interview, but were still handling interior fires and could be on scene throughout the night. He also tells us there were about 12 explosions in the building at the beginning of the incident.
It was around 2:07 a.m. on Monday when and evacuation order was issued, forcing firefighters to pull back from fighting the fire do to hazardous materials being airborne.
The Rutherford County Government Facebook page posted the following:
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! 2:07am – Rutherford County Emergency Management is now advising that as a precaution, a half mile evacuation is currently in effect due to the air quality. Sheriff personnel will be conducting door-to-door evacuations. A temporary emergency shelter is open at Chase Middle School located at 840 Chase High Road.
A viewer sent in photos to FOX Carolina showing the smoke rising from the plant.
Just after 10 p.m. Sunday night, we received this statement from American Zinc Products:
“We are supporting the fire department and our main focus is to ensure the safety of our employees, the firefighters and the community. No further comment will be provided at this time.”
At this time, no injuries have been reported. We’ll update with more information as soon as it becomes available.