UPDATE 8:19 AM: Old State Route 34 in Jonesborough is back open as of Friday morning while crews continue to battle a fire at the Hexpol Compounding facility.
According to Washington County Emergency Communications, the route is back open from Highway 81 South.
Fire crews are still on the scene of the fire, so drivers are asked to use caution.
UPDATE 11 PM: At least 20 agencies from around the region are almost in hour 12 in responding to the fire at the Hexpol Compounding plant in Jonesborough.
“We initially had an explosion. We did have an employee that was injured and he’s been flown out to a burn center,” said Jonesborough Fire Chief Phil Fritts. “The fire was in the worst possible place it could be because it’s right in the middle of the structure.”
The call came in just before 2 a.m. Thursday morning. Crews arrived minutes later and had issues cutting the power to the plant.
Throughout the day, tanker and fire trucks from various departments hauled almost 3.5 million gallons of water to the scene.
“We’re trying to take some relief off of the public water system so we’re drafting in different places to feed the trucks,” said Fritts.
Fritts says the fire is being investigated by the state and believes it caused during manufacturing.
“We have a heavy fire load and it just went from there and it’s almost impossible to get a fire like this under control,” said Fritts. “We’ll have to move all this debris that fell in because… we lost that whole building… You’ve just got a façade sticking up right now.”
The fire could burn through the weekend.
“We’re not showing black smoke anymore. Well have flare ups and until we can pick up all that debris and get it out away from the building and get under it,” said Fritts. “It could go a couple of days according to how long we can safely get in there.”
The high volume of crews will not cause an issue in other responses. Fritts says departments have spare staff back at their stations. The first operation done at 5 p.m. The second is currently responding and the third operation will arrive at 6 a.m. Friday morning.
The building, a total loss, possibly putting the close to 100 Hexpol employees without a job.
“Most of them live here locally… they live around here just around the stores and they get their food and gas and go to work, they come back on the break,” said Crockett Corner market and gas station owner,” Pramod Pandit.
His home and business are about a mile away from the plant. The impact on his business will go beyond the temporary road closure.
“We were struggling from Covid-19 and now on top of that there’s a fire next door so it will be a big loss to us for sure,” he said.
UPDATE 8 PM: Flames are still visible on one side of the building.
Old State Route 34 will be impacted until at least noon tomorrow due to tanker trucks coming in and out, according to Jonesborough Police Chief Ron Street.
“State Route 34 is closed from Vines Road to the roundabout on Main Street. So it will probably be closed up until at least noon tomorrow that we anticipate now and maybe even longer,” said Street. “To avoid any delays- anticipate that and take another route around this location.”
UPDATE 12:52 P.M. JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – The fire at the Hexpol Compounding facility in Jonesborough continues to rage and show signs of life.
You can see News Channel 11’s live video of the fire on Thursday afternoon below:
UPDATE 11:45 A.M. JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL)- Officials with Hexpol have released the following statement after the fire at their Jonesborough facility:
“Jonesborough, TN, 1/7/20 – At approximately 1:30 am CST on January 7th, HEXPOL’s Jonesborough rubber compounding facility, located in Jonesborough, TN, had a significant fire in the facility.
Emergency protocols were immediately activated, and 22 employees were evacuated from the facility. One employee is being treated for injuries. At this time, there are no fatalities.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and HEXPOL is fully cooperating with governmental officials.
“We would like to thank the brave first responders that have been on the scene battling the fire since it broke out.,” said Ken Bloom, President of HEXPOL NA.
As more information becomes available, HEXPOL will provide the public with additional details.”Hexpol
JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – A fire is burning at a local rubber supplier early Thursday morning injured one person, according to dispatchers.
The Jonesborough Fire Department says the fire started at Hexpol Compounding in the early morning hours and described the scene as “very active at this hour,” as of around 5 a.m.
Washington County Emergency Communications says one person was injured early Thursday around 2 a.m. close to the time the fire was first reported.
The extent of that person’s injuries are unknown. Dispatchers say the person was transported from the scene by EMS.
Officials told News Channel 11 that the fire could burn for days. Hexpol produces rubber compounds.
Washington County EMA is advising all nearby residents with livestock who have access to Little Limestone Creek to keep their animals away from the water if they are within a mile of the facility. Alternate watering plans should be made due to runoff from the plant entering the creek.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is now on the scene and monitoring the situation.
JFD says portions of Old State Route 34 are closed due to the fire.
The Jonesborough Department of Public Safety released the following statement:
“Jonesborough and other area Fire Departments are working a large commercial structure fire in the area of Old State Route 34 and Judge Vines Road near the Five Points Round-a-Bout. There are multiple emergency units in the area and parts of OSR 34 will be shut down. Motorists are advised to avoid the area.”
Jonesborough police say no one has been evacuated from the immediate area as of 6 a.m. Thursday morning.
News Channel 11’s crew on the scene says water tanker trucks are traveling back to the Jonesborough Town Garage to refill the tanks before returning to the scene.
Washington County EMA representatives told News Channel 11 that they are handling environmental effects of the fire, while town agencies will be addressing the fire and rescue issues.
Washington County EMA asks that people avoid the area from the traffic circle at Old State Route 24 and Hwy 81 to Pioneer Market unless your home is in that area.
Officials warn residents to steer clear of the area for the foreseeable future.