STATESVILLE, N.C. - An explosion sparked a fire at a mill in Statesville Sunday morning. Eyewitness News has learned that one employee was injured.
People blocks away heard the explosion. It happened before 9 a.m. Firefighters had difficulty fighting the flames because the collapsed part of the building became so unstable.
"We can't get in there to check on anything because of the bad shape the building is in," Statesville Fire Marshal Mike Billings said.
The fire marshal believes it was some kind of dust explosion, but he's investigating exactly what sparked it.
"This is the worst we've had in my career since I've been here," Billings said.
A worker was in the part of the building where the explosion happened. He was taken to the hospital, and many people in Statesville are praying for him.
"Hopefully just burn and shock I'm hoping cause I know a lot of the guys that work over there," Thomas Lee said.
Lee eats lunch with many of the men who work at the mill. He hopes the place is back up and running soon.
"They need their jobs," Lee said. "They don't make a lot of money, but this mill has been in business for years so it helps."
Its website says Bartlett Milling Company was founded in 1907. It mills flour and feed.
Bartlett Milling Company said Monday:
There was an explosion at the Bartlett Milling Company facility in Statesville, North Carolina, on Sunday morning. A Bartlett employee was injured, and was driven to the hospital by a fellow employee. He is in the local hospital and is reported to be in stable condition. His well-being certainly is our first concern.
The incident occurred in the “cleaning house,” a building which houses the early stages of the milling process; the flour mill itself experienced little or no damage.
We are working with our experts as well as local authorities to assess exactly what happened.