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Investigation of a Tuesday afternoon fire at a plastic recycling business outside Halifax continues.

Halifax Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Johnson said Robert Smith of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office and Lieutenant Bryan Hollowell of the Roanoke Rapids Fire Department spent most of Tuesday evening conducting their investigation at Pelican Packaging, which is located off Highway 903.

Currently, Johnson said, firefighters are leaning to the cause of the fire being linked to a chemical reaction that caused “spontaneous combustion.”

Johnson said insurance investigators for the company were expected to arrive today to continue investigating.

When firefighters arrived they observed heavy smoke coming from the building which made it difficult to locate the fire. Visibility was next to nothing, Johnson said.

Gallery photos courtesy of Halifax Fire and Rescue

A 50 x 50 area of the warehouse was contained by the sprinkler system and the work of firefighters.

Johnson said it took firefighters a couple of hours to get the fire under control and move items around in the holding area for unshredded plastics contained in cardboard boxes which are placed on pallets.

Water from the sprinkler system and the fire-fighting efforts compromised the integrity of the cardboard boxes and created a fall risk, Johnson said.

Johnson said during the fire-fighting effort the fatal 2021 QVC distribution center fire in Rocky Mount was on the minds of the responders. “The sprinkler system was a big help,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for the sprinkler system it would have been another QVC.”

Johnson said he was pleased with the cooperation Halifax received from adjoining departments. “The cooperation and respect firefighters have for each other is just awesome. We work as well together as any departments I know of. With mutual aid it made it so much easier and better.”

The owner of the company said Tuesday there were no injuries and employees were safely evacuated from the building.

Johnson reported late Tuesday that approximately 50 firefighters were at the scene and represented Halifax, Roanoke Rapids, Weldon, Darlington, Rheasville and Enfield.