Investigators at the scene of an Athens fertilizer storage facility that burned down. (Source: KLTV Staff)
ATHENS, TX (KLTV) -
Investigators spent all day Sunday sifting through the remains of an Athens Fertilizer Storage Facility that burned down Thursday. The fire broke out just before 6 o'clock Thursday night at the East Texas Ag Supply Storage building on Larkin Street. Fire officials said they always investigate this type of incident as suspicious. Investigators said they still don't know what caused the fire, but said they won't stop until they've found all of the answers.
The scene team, comprised of three different departments including ATF, State Fire Marshal, and Cit of Athens, spent the day digging through the debris. They looked for answers buried beneath the rubble.
“They’re looking for anything that could be any cause of the fire,” Assistant State Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said.
A 4,000 square foot building with just five employees, he said, was a relatively small fertilizer storage facility. It housed ammonium nitrate and other components of fertilizer.
“That was one of the walls where there was, you know, material and operations that went inside and actually mixed those materials based on whatever the local farmer, rancher, or customer of the plant needed, and so that was basically what they did,” he explained as he pointed to the only wall left standing.
As the investigation continues they’ll sift through the rubble like an archeological dig, working to eliminate everything that could have caused the fire.
“You see the zip ties going on right there. What they’re doing is looking at the electrical system of the building right now. That’s just another one of the things that we have to be able to either eliminate or not eliminate,” he explained.
They’re marking artifacts and digging up every last bit. Though the smell is still strong he said the air is clean and the community is safe, “we’re standing right here on top of the site. There’s no danger to us even standing where we’re at. The community is safe.”
Sunday’s efforts didn’t dig up the answer as to what caused the fire, but they’ll be out there until all the pieces come together.
In addition to the scene team they also have an interview team and they’re asking for your help. If you took any pictures of videos of the fire on Thursday, officials said looking at those could help them determine how the fire spread and where it was more concentrated. That will help them figure out how it started. To find out who to contact for tips or to send photos and videos, click here.