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Fire breaks out at Bridgestone-Firestone plant in Wilson

Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of a massive fire at the Bridgestone-Firestone tire plant in Wilson.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of a massive fire at the Bridgestone-Firestone tire plant in Wilson.

The fire broke out Saturday just before 3 p.m. in the building where workers mixed rubber to make tires.

Two people were injured: an employee was sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation, and a firefighter twisted his ankle. But both are doing okay.

The fire has been contained, and the plant manager tells ABC11 they still don't know what started the fire.

Hundreds of workers were evacuated and multiple crews converged on the plant to douse the flames.

"There are alarms going off even right now," said Plant Manager Gary Williamson.

"Our internal fire brigade were the first to respond and utilized the fire suppression equipment to fight the fire until the professional firefighters arrived," Williamson said.

One employee who didn't want to go on camera has worked at the plant for seven years and says she's never seen a scene like this on the job.

"It's rare," she said. "It's rare because we've got so many safety precautions in there."

The rest of the plant is currently operating, except for the site of the fire where there is now a lot of work ahead.

"We'll have to go in and assess the damage," Williamson said. "We have not even seen it. Only the firefighters have been in there."

He said he doesn't know how long it will take before repairs are made.

Bridgestone Americas issued a statement about the fire, explaining:

"The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Damage was contained to a small portion of the plant's mixing area and operations throughout the rest of the plant are continuing as usual. We expect to be cleared to enter the mixing area soon to begin repairs."

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