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Authorities continuing work on Monroe Drive chemical fire site
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Hall County Fire Services firefighter Nathan DeFoor walks past the AFCO building along Monroe Drive Monday, March 5, 2018, as it smolders from a Sunday night fire. - photo by Scott Rogers

Authorities said Wednesday they would continue to work on a site of a chemical fire and “additional assessments to air and water quality are being made” on Monroe Drive, according to Hall County Fire Services Capt. Zachary Brackett.

District 2 Public Health advised residents Tuesday night to not use water from Allen Creek following a commercial fire Sunday night.

“Due to runoff from firefighting activities, contaminants entered Allen Creek,” District 2 Public Health said in a statement sent by Hall County Fire Services. “Based on PH levels in water samples taken from Allen Creek by (the) US Environmental Protection Agency and the facility owner, Public Health is advising residents to avoid using water from the creek for any purpose, including drinking, swimming, fishing or other recreational activities until further notice.”

Brackett said Wednesday the advisory was issued “once pH readings were confirmed to be out of the normal range for the waters of Allen Creek.”

Crews brought in equipment to demolish a building on Monroe Drive that burned Sunday, March 4.

Monroe Drive was still closed to traffic Wednesday, March 7, as authorities continued cleanup and containment measures after the fire involving unknown chemicals. No airborne chemicals were detected.

“Containment and runoff control has been established by creating dirt berms around the incident site and directing runoff into collection basins,” Hall County Fire Services Capt. Zach Brackett wrote in an email.

Multiple agencies are assessing any “impacts to aquatic life as well as air and water quality” after a discharge from runoff affecting Allen Creek, Brackett said.

“No public risk has been identified  through air monitoring,” Brackett said. “An increased pH has been noted in the waters of Allen Creek from Monroe Drive to the Hall County/Jackson County line.”

There were no injuries in the fire, the cause of which remains unknown.

The list of substances housed on the property, provided to The Times by Georgia EPD on Monday, March 5, shows that many chemicals on-site are corrosive, toxic or volatile.

After entering the building and discovering chemical containers ablaze inside the business, which is a cleaning, sanitizing, water management, food manufacturing and food safety consulting company named AFCO, firefighters took a “defensive posture” and worked to stop the spread of the fire to nearby buildings, according to Fire Services.

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