Enviva fire under investigation

Company: No one injured, cause probed

Staff reports

			
				                                Enviva Pellets Sampson in the Faison area was the site of a fire Friday afternoon. Despite strong winds, fire departments from multiple counties were able to contain the blaze.

Enviva Pellets Sampson in the Faison area was the site of a fire Friday afternoon. Despite strong winds, fire departments from multiple counties were able to contain the blaze.

Raw materials caught fire at the Enviva Pellets Sampson plant in the Faison area, prompting fire department from multiple counties to respond on Friday. Enviva officials reported no structural damage, and noted the blaze is still under investigation, saying that plant processes were not believed to have caused the fire.

At approximately 2:29 p.m., the Faison Fire Department responded to a fire at the Enviva Pellets plant. According to Sampson County officials, the fire began on a pile of pellet shavings near the rear of the property, eventually spreading into the wooded area on the northwest side of the property.

Multiple Sampson County fire departments, Sampson County EMS, and various fire departments and agencies from neighboring counties responded to the scene and worked to collectively slow the spread and contain the fire.

“The fire has been contained to one area despite strong wind conditions. There have been no injuries and no significant damage to the plant. As a precautionary measure, the plant was shut down,” a statement from Enviva, made through Jacob Westfall, manager of communications and public relations for the company, read.

“The forestry service is also taking preventative steps to ensure the safety of the surrounding area,” the statement from Enviva continued. “We would like to thank the first responders for their quick response and dedicated support to ensure the health and safety of all concerned. The cause of the fire is being investigated and we expect to have more information concerning the root cause in the next few days; however, at this time, there is no indication that our plant processes were the cause.”

No structural fire damage was reported.

Enviva has nine plants spread throughout the U.S. Southeast that manufacture wood pellets from low-grade wood fiber and residuals that it then ships abroad to provide heat and electricity in places like Europe and Asia. These plants provide good paying local jobs and support dozens of small businesses.

Enviva has invested nearly $150 million in its Sampson plant and it provides jobs to around 80 associates. Enviva’s impact run’s deep – it also supports nearly 300 jobs in related industries such as logging and trucking. Enviva directly injects nearly $1 billion annually into the rural North Carolina economy.

In Sampson, the annual production goal is 600,000 metric tons of wood pellets.