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Washington potato factory fire prompts evacuation over ammonia explosion fears

A fire at a potato plant in Eastern Washington on Thursday night prompted authorities to issue a Level 3 evacuation order due to the risk of an ammonia explosion.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office issued the "GO NOW" notice for all residents living west of Road U-SE and south of Highway 170 in Warden, Wash., before 9 p.m. PT as the fire threatened an ammonia tank inside the Washington Potato Company.

"This Level 3 notice means you should leave the area now. Do not delay," the sheriff’s department said in the alert. "Law enforcement officers will go door-to-door to notify persons in the Level 3 area."

The sheriff’s department said emergency responders might not be able to help those who decide to stay.

The door-to-door evacuation warnings had been completed by 11 p.m. PT a KREM-TV reporter in Spokane reported. "Fire will continue to burn w/the hope the tank won't explode. Grant. Co. PIO says fire was reported to have started in a dehydration unit at the Washington Potato Co. Building expected to be 'total loss,'" he tweeted.

(The fire in Warden, Wash., is seen Thursday night. (Grant County Sheriff's Office))

No injuries were immediately reported.

Warden is about 100 miles southwest of Spokane.

The fire was knocked down by early Friday morning and residents were allowed to return to their homes, KXLY-TV in Spokane reported. There were no reports of an explosion.



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