MADISON, N.C. (WGHP) — Officials evacuated people in the area of an asphalt facility due to a fire in a tank and asked other people nearby to shelter in place for several hours Tuesday morning.
The call came in around 6 a.m. when a truck driver was making a delivery to SealMaster on West Decatur Street in Madison and discovered a fire. They tried to extinguish it but when that failed, the driver called the fire department.
The fire department tried to put the fire out without water, using purple K instead, but that did not seem to work. They pulled insulation away from the tank initially believing it was an insulation fire, but the heat inside the tank continued to increase and while it is “semi-stable,” fire officials say that concerning noises and the heat, they pulled their firefighters back.
The tank has a 17,000-gallon capacity and indicators said it had about 11,500 gallons in it.
Officials are trying to determine if there’s a possibility of an explosion. Power has been cut to the tank and the focus is on trying to cool it down, as well as monitoring another tank nearby.
While they work on cooling the tank and determining why it’s continuing to heat, everyone without 1000 feet was evacuated and everyone within a half-mile was asked to shelter in place. This was lifted just after 1 p.m.
Air monitoring is in place within that half-mile radius and state regional HAZMAT has been called.
The Chief Operating Officer of SealMaster said that the raw material in the tank usually has to maintain 200 degrees. The asphalt-based product that makes pavement sealer inside the tank is not explosive and as far as he is aware, there are no leads or breaches in the tank, so the biggest risk to the community is the smoke at this time, and he believes the risk is minimal.
When a truck driver making a delivery on West Decatur Street spotted the fire, they tried unsuccessfully to put it out with an extinguisher. He called firefighters shortly after to help.
Fire crews spent most of the day cooling things down.
“They will take and haul it off as a mass and disassemble it. They will find out what caused the fire. We’re not sure yet. They’re leaning towards a possible malfunctioning heating unit that keeps the liquid at a certain temperature but is good to work with…it got hotter than it was supposed to and ignited. It ignited deep in the vessel, and the heat expanded, and the insulation surrounding it ignited as well,” Madison Fire Chief Jim Ritchey said.
There were no injuries reported.
We asked if SealMaster will be cited.
The fire chief told FOX8 that’s between the company and the county’s emergency management
However, since this appears to be a malfuction, no one is really at fault.
We will keep you updated on if any fines or punishments come out.
Residents are encouraged to use the Town of Madison Facebook page to stay up to date.