Fire, Explosions at Asphalt Plant Likely Caused by Mechanical Failure

The burning asphalt may have released dangerous chemicals into the air.

Emergency personnel were called to the Gardner Fields asphalt plant on Sunday morning when 70 tons of liquid asphalt caught fire in storage silos. The fire began around 4:00 am and it set off a series of explosions that released toxic chemicals into the air.

Investigators believe that a  mechanical failure in a supply line and valve between several storage tanks are to blame, but they are still unsure how the fire started. 

The burning asphalt may have released dangerous chemicals into the air, and local residents were advised to stay indoors for a few hours, but nobody was reportedly injured by the accident. 

According to local authorities, crews,  including a special Hazmat team, spent several hours trying to shut off the natural gas supply to the fire and extinguish the blaze. The fire was put out by early afternoon using a special foam and environmental contractors reviewed the site afterwards to make sure runoff from the foam water mixture used to battle the blaze didn't runoff into nearby waters.

The industrial accident is currently under investigation. 

The plant is one of Gardner-Gibson's 13 manufacturing and distribution facilities in North America. Gardner-Gibson manufactures roof, driveway and waterproofing coatings, caulks, spackles and wallpaper adhesives.

We reached out to Gardner regarding the impact on operations, but the company has not returned our request for comment.

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