Local News

Fire Breaks Out at Sampson Meat Plant

Posted June 19, 2007 3:46 p.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2007 6:36 p.m. EDT

— Firefighters from about a dozen fire departments were called to a fire at a Sampson County meat-processing plant Tuesday afternoon.

The fire started at about 1p.m. in a garage adjacent to the Martins Abattoir & Wholesale Meats plant off U.S. Highway 13 in Godwin, plant manager W.A. Bullard said.

Two men were in the garage at the time and escaped without injury, Bullard said. The men said they heard a popping noise and then saw flames, he said.

"It looks to me like a flash fire from something, but I don't know what it was," he said. "The guys had fire extinguishers, but they said it was too hot and came running out."

Thick black smoke could be seen pouring from the area for some time as tires and cardboard boxes stored in the area burned. Fire crews remained on the scene until Tuesday evening to water down hot spots as the fire continued to smolder.

"I'm glad we made the decision when we were on the scene not to make an interior attack," said Lt. Brett Hairr of the Clement Fire Department. "The building was fully involved, it was a weakening structure, and as you can see, we had a roof collapse."

Firefighters said the flames came dangerously close to igniting a large propane tank behind the garage.

A couple of trucks were parked in the garage, Bullard said, adding that he didn't have an estimate of the damage.

The fire didn’t affect production at the plant, he said.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but firefighters said they suspect a welding torch ignited combustible material.