PUYALLUP, Wash. – An existing shelter is back in effect for residents of Puyallup as a fire at a cold storage facility continues to burn.
Central Pierce Fire and Rescue called the fire a “very dynamic” situation and set up another shelter within a mile of the fire in downtown Puyallup.
The three-alarm fire at Washington Cold Storage was discovered around 5 a.m. on Saturday.
No one was injured, but an area of just over a mile surrounding the fire was evacuated.
Thick black smoke from a fire inside the Washington cold store swept through the Puyallup sky all day Saturday and continued until Sunday morning. At around 5 a.m. on Saturday, the fire was started by a passerby “who saw smoke and flames rising from the roof of the cold store,” said Captain Darrin Shaw of Central Pierce Fire & Rescue. .
This is what Central Pierce Fire was confronted with, flames ripping through the building. So they immediately set off a second alarm.
“The crews immediately launched a defensive attack using thousands of gallons of water,” Shaw said.
Then they fired a third alarm. They learned early on that anhydrous ammonia was stored inside the building.
“Anhydrous ammonia is used as a refrigerant,” said Captain Shaw. “And it’s dangerous when it catches fire. So, per our guidelines, we evacuated 1.1 miles. “
The nearby Nazarene Church opened to welcome the evacuees. Alerts were sent to Reverse 911. Some police officers in Puyallup even went door to door.
But resident Gail Langer says she has never received an alert, a concern in an area accustomed to regularly testing alerts in the event of a Mount Rainier eruption.
“I was hoping that if there was something like that, we would hear the sound system,” she said.
Instead, a friend called her. So she gathered her dogs and left.
“I’m a little worried that they’ve stored 1,000 pounds of ammonia a mile away from where I live,” Langer said. “I’m curious as to what has ignited or if it is something that is naturally combustible.”
“I know it’s a smoking room and also a cold store,” said Charles Bailey, an evacuee. “It’s an old building. So there are concerns that there could be explosions.
Firefighters say that because of the danger of anhydrous ammonia, they allow the fire to go out, putting water around the periphery to prevent the flames from spreading beyond the immediate area.
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