Large Warehouse Fire: Gastonia, NC

A large warehouse fire in a 211,000 SF complex resulted from a transformer explosion this morning at the Wix Distribution Center in Gastonia, NC. The building complex was a former textile mill and was built in 1917.

Published report indicate that more than 60 firefighters operated at the scene to control the fire.

It was reported that Fire Chief Phillip Welch stated firefighters started fighting the fires inside the building after the transformer explosion occurred, but it quickly got out of control. There was an aggressive attack inside, but just because of the storage fight, we were not able to overcome that nor was the sprinkler system, Welch said.

Aerial View, BING Map Capture

Considerations and Thoughts

  • How prepared is your department for a large scale fire in a large footprint warehouse?
  • Have you completed pre-fire plans, walk through tours and table top exercises for the key at risk buildings or complexes?
  • Do you know what the sustained water flow requirements might be for a heavily or fully involved complex or building?
  • Practices and honed your skills on establishing and managing a complex, multi-operatonal period incident?
  • Have you looked at creating box alarms or pre-arranged greater alarm response and resource requests?
  • Have you trained with the departments, jurisdictions and companies that might respond?
  • Do you have strategies and tactics identified and have you trained on them for operations in large scale buildings?  Don’t implment and treat the incident like you would a residential or small commercial fire….
  • Respect the building and predict with conservative decision-making
  • Manage and expect compromise and collapse, rapid fire extention and operational challenges to fixed suppression systems and protectivies
  • Don’t over extend companies while attmtping to operate in the interior: These are typcially closed building ( lack of immedate exiting capabilties) with a special need for air management and accountability and access control.
IMAGES: Scene of Gastonia warehouse fire Saturday gallery

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Chris Naum

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