Local News

Fire at Smithfield Scrap Metal Yard Continues to Spread

Posted April 30, 2007 6:47 p.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2007 2:17 p.m. EDT

— Crews are monitoring a fire that started Monday at a scrap metal yard in Smithfield. Officials said Tuesday that the fire had spread to the back section of the Atlantic Scrap and Processing plant, but crews said they will let the blaze burn itself out.

Meanwhile, the state Highway Patrol said U.S. Highway 301 between Brogden Road and Packing Plant Road had been re-opened. The road was closed due to poor visibility caused by heavy smoke from the plant on Wal Pat Road.

"We're in a defensive mode and just trying to protect the property around it," said Patrick Harris, of the Smithfield Fire Department.

Smithfield officials said there were no air-quality concerns as crews from 14 fire departments battled the flames at the plant.

Johnston County officials issued a voluntary water-conservation order for the entire county Monday as crews battled the flames. Officials said the order may remain in effect through mid-week.

The fire started in scrap metal in the yard about 4:15 p.m. Monday, and a passer-by who saw the flames called 911 dispatchers, Smithfield emergency officials said. Another fire ignited on a conveyor belt nearby shortly afterward.

Smithfield Town Manager Pete Connet said there were no air- or water-quality concerns resulting from the smoke or water runoff. The smoke cloud lifted up and out from the area around the fire Monday evening, with weather conditions helping the situation, Connet said.

Small explosions were heard near the scene of the fires early Monday evening. Connet said no hazardous materials were known to be on site, and the explosions could have come from burning rubber or foil.

There were no reports of injuries resulting from the fires. No evacuations were needed, Connet said.

Monday’s blazes were the second time that crews have fought flames at the Atlantic Scrap Metal yard in the past six months. A fire burned more than 20 hours in October 2006, and 65 firefighters from 11 departments battled it. No one was hurt.