Sweet Potato Fire Has Been Burning Since November

Silo may need to just burn itself out
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 10, 2015 1:48 PM CST
This Oct. 26, 2015 photo shows skillet glazed spicy sweet potatoes in Concord, NH.   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

(Newser) – Smoke from burnt sweet potatoes wafting around the town of Farmville has nothing to do with holiday baking. A silo full of dehydrated sweet potatoes has been smoldering in the town an hour east of Raleigh since at least the week of Thanksgiving, said Farmville town manager David Hodgkins. Firefighters and other town personnel have been at the scene around the clock since Nov. 27, when Hodgkins said the fire became apparent. At least 25 million gallons of water has been sprayed, but it's not clear when it might be extinguished.

He says the fire doesn't pose a health threat to the town of nearly 5,000 people, but some residents complained about the smoke. He expects the company called Natural Blend to pay firefighting costs, which include water purchased from nearby Greenville. Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration opened in 2014 and dehydrates sweet potatoes used primarily in pet food, according to a release from the NCEast Alliance. It's not clear when or how the fire started. Some dehydrated sweet potatoes in the silo got wet over the summer before drying and solidifying, and the company tried drilling holes to dislodge the hardened mass—which may have created a spark, Hodgkins said. (Read more strange stuff stories.)

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