Fertilizer Plant Fire Smolders

Residents who live near a fertilizer plant that has been burning for a week are returning to their homes after authorities said the risk of a large explosion had greatly diminished.

Officials on Sunday reduced the evacuation zone, which initially extended as much as a mile from the Winston Weaver Co. plant, to 275 feet.

The fire broke out last Monday night at the plant, where nearly 500 tons (454 metric tons) of ammonium nitrate was stored – almost three times the amount that exploded at a Texas plant in 2013, killing 15 people. The fire has affected more than 6,500 residents. A nearby elementary school closed for in-person learning and Wake Forest University canceled classes because of the fire.


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