Fire engulfs peanut warehouse

Published 9:04 am Friday, July 22, 2022

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A three-alarm fire at Producers Peanut Co. off of Moore Avenue Friday morning engulfed multiple warehouses on the property and took more than two hours to bring under control.

One warehouse was a complete loss, and two more on either side of it sustained flame damage, according to Suffolk Fire Chief Mike Barakey in an interview Friday afternoon. The warehouses were unoccupied at the time of the fire.

“There was slight damage to the other warehouses, but the only warehouse that is a complete loss is the one that started (the fire),” Barakey said.

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Battalion 1 was first on the scene in the 300 block of Moore Avenue, in the Moore Avenue Industrial Area, at 5:32 a.m. They found heavy smoke and fire showing from the roof of a 300 foot by 400 foot commercial warehouse.

Other units found other surrounding warehouses on fire, and a 500-gallon propane tank that was also exposed to the large fire.

At that point, Battalion 1 requested a second alarm due to the size of the building and the amount of fire involvement. Crews attacked the fire from the interior and ladder crews worked it from above.

Due to the heat and humidity with temperatures already at 92 degrees early Friday morning, Barakey said they had to rotate crews and limit their work cycles to battle the blaze.

More than 50 firefighters were at the scene, and Chesapeake Ladder 10 also responded. Chesapeake and Isle of Wight County fire crews backfilled Suffolk Fire and Rescue stations, and Chesapeake Ladder 10 was still backfilling the city’s Bridge Road fire station as of 2:30 p.m., Friday.

The fire was declared under control at 7:45 a.m., Barakey said, two hours and 13 minutes after the first crews arrived.

“That was a lot of heavy work in a very humid and hot time period,” Barakey said.

He said crews were also challenged by the large size of the warehouse with the other warehouses close to it.

The Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire, and Barakey said it would take longer than normal.

“The investigation will be pretty extensive,” Barakey said, to determine the cause and origin of the fire. “That will continue and we won’t have a release on the cause of the fire for some time, but we are actively digging in and looking into the cause and origin.”

The owner of Producers Peanut Co., MAR-JA Inc., is working with the Suffolk Fire and Rescue to provide information on the contents inside the building.

Barakey said as of Friday afternoon, they still do not know the contents of what was in the warehouses.

“They did not know what was contained in the warehouse,” Barakey said. “We had nobody there this morning that could tell us what was in there, so we’re still trying to figure out what the products were, or product was, inside the warehouse.”

Responding units included Car 1, Car 2, Battalion 1, Battalion 2, Battalion 3, Engine 1, Engine 2, Engine 3, Engine 4, Engine 6, Engine 7, Engine 9, Engine 10, Ladder 3, Ladder 6, Ladder 11, Chesapeake Ladder 10, Rescue 1, Medic 1, EMS1, Safety 1, Rehab 6, and Fire Marshals 1 and 3. Suffolk Police also provided traffic control.

Barakey said multiple units were still on scene Friday afternoon and he expected them to be on the scene through the late afternoon or into the early evening hours.