An over-pressurized mixer leaked 1,500 gallons of liquid asphalt, causing a fire at the Statesville, NC, Maymead plant Monday night.
As a result, operations at portions of the plant have ceased indefinitely as of Tuesday, said area manager Mary Katherine Harbin. Officials are calling the incident an accidental fire.Portions of what has been described as the “old building” at the Maymead plant caught fire at 8 p.m. Monday after liquid asphalt leaked out of mixing machinery, fire officials said.
The mixer became over pressurized and roughly 1,500 gallons of liquid asphalt leaked out, said Assistant Iredell County Fire Marshal Josh Levan. The device has a capacity of 25,000 gallons.
The fire burned for around 80 minutes before it was contained, said Iredell County Emergency Management Coordinator Jody Smyre.
The mixer and the control tower adjacent to it were damaged in the blaze.
Levan said the liquid asphalt ran along the ground and toward the control tower, causing it to catch fire. He said the roadway caught fire as well.
The night shift had just begun at the plant when the fire started; eight to 10 employees were present at the time of the incident.
No one was injured in the incident.
At the scene Tuesday, the control tower building damaged in the fire sat ravaged with scorch marks. Cool liquid asphalt was plastered across multiple stretches of ground and was stuck on a row of concrete steps that had been covered with a large mound of gravel.
Harbin said the plant will be closed starting Tuesday.
She said she was grateful for the work of first responders and the work of former Mt. Mourne Fire Chief and Maymead employee David VanAuken.
VanAuken jumped into a loader vehicle and dumped gravel on the liquid asphalt before it could reach the plant’s new $5.5 million facility.
“(We’re) thankful we can overcome a structure fire,” Harbin said.
And although the plant is closed, Harbin stressed no employees were losing their jobs.
The Statesville plant had been providing asphalt for North Carolina Department of Transportation operations; Harbin said the Hickory facility will be taking over the near 20-mile project now.
Employees working at the Statesville plant will be working out of Hickory for the foreseeable future.
She said the Statesville plant had been open for 35 years, and Monday’s fire was the first of this significance.
Levan estimated the damages to the building at $1.2 million; he said the property was valued at $3 million. He added that the fire marshal’s office ruled it as accidental.