Explosion leads to chemical fire at Gwinnett business

Originally published on AJC

HMN - Explosion leads to chemical fire at Gwinnett business
Credit: Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services

An explosion on the loading dock of a Gwinnett County transportation business sparked a chemical fire Thursday evening, authorities said.

Firefighters responded to the blaze at Averitt Express on Old Norcross Road near Lawrenceville about 8 p.m after a 911 caller reported the explosion, Gwinnett fire spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.

“Firefighters could see an orange glow and column of smoke from a distance as they responded to the scene,” Rutledge said, adding they arrived to find the fire on the loading dock of the open-air commercial warehouse.

Flames engulfed a pallet of medium-sized cylinders and reached the roof of the building, but the fire was quickly snuffed out and no injuries were reported. The department’s hazardous materials team determined the cylinders contained acetylene, a flammable gas commonly used for welding or cutting materials at extremely high temperatures.

Investigators said employees were using a forklift to move the cylinders when the explosion and fire occurred.

“It is unknown whether one of the cylinders was ruptured or leaking during offloading,” Rutledge said.

The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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