UPDATE: Massive Warehouse Fire Now Out

That massive warehouse fire in Duplin County is finally out.

Flames started ripping through the Southern Producer Distributors warehouse in Faison Sunday night.

Today firefighters say the blaze is now extinguished.

County Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Pearce says crews will periodically ride by the remainer of the week to check for hot spots.

Federal ATF agents, along with the SBI and local authorities continue to search for a cause.


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Emergency management in Duplin County says that massive warehouse fire in Faison is about 95% contained.

The fire at Southern Produce Distributors was first spotted around 9:30 Sunday night.

Emergency Management Director Brian Pearce says although much of the fire is out, there is still about 100 firefighters at the scene. He says they continue to bring out hundreds of sweet potato crates that are on fire.

The owner of the warehouse estimates damage exceed $15-million. Authorities have not been able to determine a cause, and expect investigators to start looking for a cause on Wednesday.


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Damages now top $15-million dollars in what is being called Duplin County's worst fire ever.

At least thirty volunteer fire departments responded to the huge fire at a Southern Produce Distributors, which is located at 111 W. Center St. In Faison. Crews from Duplin, Sampson, Jones, Onslow, Lenoir and Wayne counties have fought the fire.

Dispatchers say the fire call first came in around 9:40 Sunday p.m. Twenty-four fire departments were on the scene at 6 a.m. Monday.

Duplin County Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Pearce says it is probably the largest fire in the county's history.

The 40,000 square foot warehouse is full of wooden pallets of sweet potatoes, stacked from the floor to the ceiling.

Owner Steward Precythe estimates that they've lost $15-million in damage to the building and goods inside the warehouse.

Precythe says he can't believe this is happening again, noting that the entire warehouse burned in 1988. The company, which started in 1942, sells potatoes to the United States and Europe.

"I'm pretty emotional right now, three generations. I got a 25-year-old son. Two times in a lifetime, its like...gosh," Precythe said as he fought back tears.

Firefighters have used over a million gallons of water on the fire. They have almost exhausted the town and county supply and are now pumping water out of creeks and nearby rivers. The town still has drinking water available for residents.

They are battling a "defensive attack", spraying from the outside because it's too dangerous to enter the building. Fork lifts are also being used to bring out pallets and spray them down.

No one was inside the warehouse when the fire began, and firefighters have no idea how the blaze began. But neighbors tell WITN they heard an explosion and then saw flames.

There is a concern about firefighter fatigue because of the heat and just how long the fire has been burning. Pearce says they will be bringing in different crews and expect to be at the scene throughout the day.

So far there have been no injuries.

Southern Produce has other warehouses in Benson, Meadow and Rocky Mount and Precythe says they will be back in Faison.


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