Blaze damages chemical plant

Published 9:36 pm Monday, December 7, 2009

Suffolk’s fire marshal continues to investigate the cause of a blaze that destroyed a large portion of a chemical plant building on Sunday.

The fire marshal was back on the scene Monday morning investigating Sunday’s fire, according to Suffolk spokesperson Debbie George.

Suffolk fire and rescue units were called to the scene of the two-alarm fire at Cameron Chemicals, located in the 800 block of Old Dill Road, at about 2 p.m. Sunday. When they arrived, the building was fully involved.

Because of the presence of chemicals in the building, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management was notified. Officials at VDEM then dispatched a regional hazardous materials team from Portsmouth to the scene.

George said Monday that she had not been notified what chemicals were present in the building. Norfolk television station WTKR was reporting Monday evening, however, that the chemicals included copper, zinc, phosphate, and magnesium, all used to make fertilizer.

George said none of the chemicals were involved in the fire.

Nonetheless, as a safety precaution, two houses adjacent to the property were evacuated for the duration of the firefighters’ battle with the flames. Residents were allowed back into their homes later, after firefighters had brought the situation under control.

“The firefighters honestly did an unbelievable job containing the fire,” George said. “They did a tremendous job.”

A total of 39 fire and rescue workers were called to the scene of the fire, in addition to the hazardous materials team, George said. Suffolk, she added, does not have its own hazmat team, relying instead on regional responses when necessary./p