Fire Sparks Initial Concerns About Potential Ammonia On-Site

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, June 3 2013 at 8:00 PM, Updated: Tue, June 4 2013 at 12:16 AM

It appeared to be touch and go for a while when a former fruit storage plant in Talent caught fire sending black smoke into the sky.

Flames engulfed a building in Talent located at the intersection of Suncrest and South Pacific Highway. The fire broke out around 2:15 Monday afternoon.

"We knew we had a lot of smoke and fire and we had very little resources initially," said Dan Marshall, Jackson County Fire District 5 Chief.

The building was previously used as a fruit storage facility a couple years ago.

"Early on we had some mixed information, whether or not if it was operating or not."

That uncertainty sparked concerns about the possibility of up to 800-gallons of ammonia inside. So, as a precaution, fire officials told some nearby residents to stay indoors.

"We now have confirmed that there is no ammonia on site and that initial reports that there were, were incorrect."

The Fire Chief said if the ammonia was still in the building, and if fire had reached it, the chemical would have been toxic to breathe and could have resulted in an explosion. Fortunately, he said the ammonia was off-loaded two years ago when the fruit storage facility turned into what he called an empty warehouse.

The ordeal shut down South Pacific Highway between Suncrest and Cabbage Lane for about 1.5 hours.

At this point, investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire.

A hazmat representative was also on scene to help with the perceived threat.    

The wooden part of the building is considered a total loss and there is some damage to the concrete portion.

As far as fire officials know, there was no one inside.

According to authorities, while the building's address is in Phoenix, the location is actually considered to be more in Talent.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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