Story contact:

Captain Tommy Rutledge, Public Information Officer

O: 678.518.4824 │ C: 678.300.5749 │ F: 678.518.4809 


(Lawrenceville, Ga., Sept. 10, 2020) – Firefighters responded at 7:54pm to a report of a business fire at the Averitt Express, located at 1156 Old Norcross Road, NW in Lawrenceville. The caller to 911 reported an explosion and fire on the loading dock.

Firefighters could see an orange glow and heavy column of smoke from a distance as they responded to the scene. Crews arrived to find an active fire on the loading dock of a large open-air commercial warehouse structure. Initial recon by the first-arriving fire crews indicated an unknown chemical fire. Flames engulfed a pallet of medium-sized cylinders and impinged on the roof of the structure. Firefighters immediately deployed fire attack and water supply hose lines to control the blaze and protect exposures.

Hazmat responded to the scene and began the process of identifying the contents of the cylinders. Hazmat Technicians established a hot zone perimeter and worked to locate the material safety data sheets (MSDS) to identify the product and determine further mitigation measures. The chemical was determined to be acetylene. Employees were using a forklift to move a pallet of cylinders when the explosion and fire occurred.

A Fire Investigator was requested to respond to the scene to assist with origin and cause determination. It is unknown whether one of the cylinders was ruptured or leaking during offloading. The exact cause is still under investigation.

Workers in the area at the time of the fire escaped unharmed. There were no injuries reported. There is extensive damage to an unknown number of cylinders and part of the roof structure directly over the affected loading dock. Hazmat Technicians monitored the damaged cylinders until vapors were reduced to minimal levels.

The Incident Commander was hopeful that they will be able to isolate the affected part of the warehouse and allow the business to continue operations once fire crews clear the scene.        

EQUIPMENT AT THE SCENE INCLUDED: 5-Engines, 2-Ladder Trucks, 1-Squad, 1- Medic Unit, 1-Hazmat Unit, 1-Air & Light Unit, 1-Battalion Chief, 1-District Commander and 1-Fire Investigator.

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