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No one injured in chemical fire at Pittsylvania County manufacturer

The company said in a statement that one of the chemical storage drums overheated

A fire belching potentially dangerous fumes is out tonight in Pittsylvania County.

CHATHAM, Va.10:30 p.m. Update

The fire is out at a Pittsylvania County manufacturer as hazmat crews begin to investigate.

Pittsylvania County Public Safety Director, Chris Slemp confirmed that there were no injuries in the fire.


5:25 p.m. Update

Arkema, the chemicals company whose Chatham site was affected by the fire, issued a statement regarding what caused the chemical fire Tuesday afternoon.

Officials said it involved the overheating of one of their products, an acrylic building block used in products like coatings and adhesives.

The acrylic building block was stored in drums inside of the building, but when the product inside the drums overheated, it caused a polymerization reaction. That means the small building blocks formed into a long chain of molecules, causing overheating and polymerization in some of the drums nearby.

Arkema officials said they, along with local fire crews, are working to cool the materials to reduce potential polymerization.


3:49 p.m. Update

The fire at the Tightsqueeze Industrial Park is approximately 90% contained and the chemical smoke has slowed considerably, according to Pittsylvania County Public Safety.

With less smoke, officials believe that the threat to the public is very minimal at this time as first responders remain on scene.

A hazardous materials team from the state is also at the scene.


2:23 p.m. Update

Crews have contained an industrial fire in Pittsylvania County, but officials said its smoke can still cause damage.

While the fire is still active, authorities have contained it and everyone within a mile radius of the Tightsqueeze Industrial Park is asked to remain indoors.

Students at Chatham High School are being moved, and those whose parents took them to school today will be bussed to Chatham Middle School and can be picked up there.

2:00 P.M. UPDATE: The fire in Tightsqueeze remains active but is contained. Everyone within a mile of the Tightsqueeze...

Posted by Pittsylvania County Public Safety on Tuesday, March 30, 2021

ORIGINAL STORY

Pittsylvania County officials are warning people to not breathe dangerous smoke coming from an industrial fire.

Just before 1:40 p.m., Pittsylvania County Public Safety issued a warning regarding a fire at the Tightsqueeze Industrial Park.

Those in the nearby area are advised to not breathe in the smoke and get inside immediately.


About the Authors:

Jeff Williamson arrived at WSLS 10 in March 2016.