Parts of Salinas, Calif., have been evacuated or face shelter-in-place orders as a huge fire at Taylor Farms has prompted fears that a toxic plume of ammonia could envelop the area, a local newspaper is reporting.
Firefighters responded to an alarm at about 7:15 p.m. April 13 at the business on Abbott Street and found the processing facility "heavily involved," the Salinas Californian reports. As of early April 14, over 22 fire units from throughout Monterey County were responding, according to the newspaper. Several other ag processing facilities are in that area.
"The fire progressed to the point that it poses a significant risk for a potential explosion of ammonia that is located in the plant," Deputy Fire Chief Sam Klemek told the Californian. "For that reason, we pulled back our units to a safe area and have begun evacuation notices for the immediate area around the plant."
The fire's cause is unclear, but fire crews said there were employees doing maintenance at the facility when the blaze was reported, according to the newspaper.
Hartnell College and local schools were closed April 14 as a precaution.
Taylor Farms was recently recognized by Walmart as its 2022 Food Supplier of the Year. The company is a leading North American producer of salads and fresh foods with production facilities across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The Salinas fire comes less than a week after a massive blaze at a Home Depot in San Jose on April 9 triggered a response by more than 100 firefighters and sent a massive cloud into the sky that was visible for miles, according to CBS San Francisco. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the cause of that fire.