Plant resumes operations following fire
By PHILIP SAYBLACK
Sunday, March 19, 2017
More than a week after a fire ripped through a local business’ warehouse, firefighters are still trying to determine what sparked the blaze.
Four fire departments responded to the fire at 4 p.m. March 10 at a warehouse at the Stanley Park Industrial Park at 7015 Stanley Park Drive, just outside Rocky Mount’s city limits.
The 10,000-square-foot warehouse, which sits only feet from a warehouse owned by the Rocky Mount Telegram, is operated by Planned Packaging of North Carolina. It is one of at least six warehouses that make up the Industrial Park.
Rocky Mount Fire Division Chief Jami Vaughan said the exact cause of the fire is still unknown and the investigation into the fire is ongoing. He said the investigation that followed found none of the other warehouses in the complex suffered any damage as a result of the blaze.
The smell of smoke was still strong in the air Friday afternoon. Every time the cool, late afternoon breeze blew, the odor was instantly evident. The flames that tore through the building nine days earlier had turned the once bright blue building a mix of black and grey.
Girders that once held the building’s metal roofing sagged, bent from the fire’s extreme heat. The roofing creaked in the wind, sounding like it was going to collapse at any moment, and walls were weakened and bent.
Pallet jacks, a forklift and other machinery sat silent inside the structure, charred from the flames. Offices inside the building were gutted along with the rest of the building.
A single fire extinguisher still sat on a table outside the front of the warehouse next to a large Waste Industries dumpster. Charred wood and paint chips littered the ground around the building, and burned hammers, screws and nails sat on a partially burned board close to the road.
Ironically, ice still stood around the perimeter, perhaps from recent rains, water used to extinguish the flames or both. A box filled with burned files sat surrounded by some of the ice. next to glass shards from broken windows.
Vaughan thought the warehouse would likely have to be torn down and rebuilt due to the amount of damage that it sustained.
“It is unsafe to go inside the building right now because of its weakened structural integrity,” Vaughan said.
He added the decision of what to do with the building ultimately rests with the building’s owner. He said the city would work with the property owner if their help was requested.
Plant Manager Cory Jones said he and all eight of the employees who worked in the building are now working in another building in the park, adding the new development came only two days after the warehouse was destroyed.
Jones said the employees “were very happy” when they were told that they would still be employed.
“We are working out of another company’s shop,” Jones said. “So we are still working.”
Gregory Davis, one of the company’s employees, was on site Friday. He was thankful that another company was willing to help out and keep everybody employed.
“I’m really happy about it,” Davis said. “I’m really glad people opened their hearts and helped us out.”
Jones added the company’s concerns about keeping its account with Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant have been alleviated, too
“We are still working with Cummins,” Jones said. “We were able to keep everything going. God is good.”
Neither Vaughan nor Jones know when the warehouse would be torn down or if it would be rebuilt.