Winston-Salem fire chief won’t speculate on when residents can return home

Winston-Salem Fire Chief Trey Mayo
Winston-Salem Fire Chief Trey Mayo(WXII)
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 2:50 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2022 at 3:37 PM EST
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WITN) - Winston-Salem Fire Chief Trey Mayo says he will not speculate on when residents who have been evacuated from their homes due to the fertilizer plant fire can return.

Mayo said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is at the site of the fire monitoring the air for “things that are generally lumped into a category of an irritant.”

However, Mayo said that according to the subject matter expert, the threat of explosion was greatly diminished overnight due to cooling operations the fire department has engaged in.

An evacuation was recommended by city leaders after a fire broke out Monday night at a Winston Weaver Co. fertilizer plant where hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate are stored.

As the clock ticks toward a full 72 hours since the fire began, Mayo hopes people will be able to return to their homes, but will not give an exact timeframe due to the possibility of circumstances changing.

“We understand that it is inconvenient to be displaced from your home. We all feel safest at home, that’s where we want to be. We recognize that and we want folks to get back as quickly as possible,” Mayo said.

He said as soon as they are able to let anybody know, they will.

The fire chief said he has been told that the greatest risk now is from a rapid-fire condition due to moving stuff around and opening things up that have heat and fuel but not air.

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