Residents near a zinc processing plant in North Carolina were forced to evacuate early Monday morning after the facility caught fire.
Flames broke out at the American Zinc Products facility, formerly known as Horse Head, in Mooresboro on Sunday night, near the state line between North and South Carolina.
A few hours later, the emergency management agency for the surrounding Rutherford Count ordered evacuations for people living within a half-mile radius of the plant, as a cautionary measure, “due to the air quality.”
Rutherford County Assistant Fire Marshal John Greenway told ABC Asheville affiliate WLOS that firefighters were pulled away at one point while the blaze was still burning because their gear tested positive for hazardous materials.
Images from the scene showed a large fire in a part of the facility, spewing billows of black smoke into the air.
The fire was extinguished around 7:15 a.m. Monday morning. An investigation was underway to determine what ignited the flames.
American Zinc Recycling, which owns the facility, said all employees have been accounted for and no one was injured in the fire.
“We are cooperating fully with state and local authorities to investigate the causes of the fire,” the company said in a statement to ABC News on Monday. “Our highest priority at all times is to protect the community, our employees and the environment and we are grateful to the quick action by the local first responders. We are unable to comment further at this time.”
ABC News’ Rachel Katz contributed to this report.