Cause of 5-alarm Rowan Co. scrapyard fire will likely be unknown, investigators say

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — Investigators told Channel 9 they will likely not know what caused a massive fire at a scrapyard in Rowan County early Monday morning.

The fire started at the Holmes Iron and Metal Scrapyard in east Spencer on North Long Street.

It was first reported just before 5 a.m., and firefighters told Channel 9 it reached five alarms. Officials said additional crews were called to help.

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Hours after the fire started, Channel 9's Anthony Kustura said crews could be seen using construction equipment to sift through piles at the scrapyard and spraying hot spots.

Co-owner Dwayne Holmes rushed to the property and immediately hopped on an excavator to start clearing debris to help first responders as they used hoses and cranes.

“The fire department was already here. They were already on site and already putting water on the fire,” Holmes said.

Fire investigators said it is likely they will not know what caused the fire at the scrapyard.

Holmes Iron and Metal Scrapyard also caught fire in July 2018. Fire officials told Channel 9 they never determined what caused the fire back then, but they called in more than 20 departments just in case Monday's fire was just as dangerous.

[ALSO READ: 38 violations uncovered at site of massive Rowan Co. scrapyard fire from 1998 to 2010]

“The fire a year ago was a lot bigger compared to this fire. We were able to get here quickly and get ahead of the fire this year,” East Spencer Fire Chief Shawn McBride said.

Officials said more than 100 firefighters battled the huge fire for 15 hours last year. Investigators determined the fire started in a junk car in one of the piles.

At the time, we uncovered dozens of fire safety violations.

We didn’t find any violations in the scrapyard's most recent inspection back in April. The owners said that’s because they purchased new equipment and created new protocols.

Now, they’re focused on one thing.

“Clean up what we got here so we can open up for the day,” Holmes said.

The fire marshal will do a walk-through with the owners to determine if there’s anything else they can do to prevent fires from happening in the future.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for more information.