ELIZABETHTOWN — And explosion and fire at Tiger Products on U.S. 701 South that closed the highway for several hours on Monday smoldered into the night and reignited Tuesday morning, preventing investigators from immediately entering the chemical plant to seek out a cause for the blaze.
“We hoped to be in the building by 8:30 Tuesday morning, but we’re holding off until investigators can enter safely,” said Bladen County Emergency Management Director Bradley Kinlaw.
The fire was reported at about 9:30 a.m. Monday and wasn’t extinguished until about 5 p.m. About five residences and a veterinary clinic were evacuated shortly after the fire began.
Tiger Products, also known as Cape Fear Chemicals Inc. and located about 2 miles south of downtown Elizabethtown, produces agricultural chemicals and employs about 20 people.
Kinlaw said Monday’s fire could have been much worse.
“Oh, absolutely … that stuff burns real easy,” he said. “There was a lot of fire, but thankfully they were able to get it contained (and) a quick response by the Elizabethtown Fire Department kept it from getting worse.”
Kinlaw said there were no injuries to employees or emergency response crews reported.
According to reports, the fire started as employees were using a machine to process sulfur dust in the company’s production building. The explosion left a hole in the building’s roof.
At about mid-afternoon, the Bladen County Water Department reported discoloration in the water and low pressure due to the fire.
Assisting with the incident were Elizabethtown Fire Department, Clarkton Fire Department, Bladenboro Fire Department, Lisbon Fire Department, White Lake Fire Department, Bladen County EMS, Bladen County Emergency Management, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, City of Fayetteville Fire/Emergency Department’s hazardous-material response team the and Bladen County Sheriff’s Office.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.