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Fire, gas leak closes Pilgrim’s Pride in Guntersville, homeowners nearby asked to stay inside

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - The Pilgrim's Pride manufacturing plant in Guntersville caught fire Thursday morning. A small leak prompted emergency crews to ask people in nearby homes to stay inside and close their windows and doors. Fire officials said Thursday evening the leak at Pilgrim's appears to be fixed and they’re monitoring the situation. Friday afternoon, fire officials turned the plant back over and said all readings were at good, safe measures.

Thursday morning the Guntersville Police Department asked that the public avoid the area of Highway 227. Anyone that lives on Wyeth Drive, Wyeth Mountain Road, Hide Away Drive, West Street or Perry Street is asked to stay home as a precaution, and keep windows and doors shut.

The fire started around 5:15 Thursday morning. Guntersville Fire Chief Brian Waldrop said they were able put the fire out within 45 minutes.

Shortly after the fire was out, Guntersville Police Chief Jim Peterson said there was a small amount of anhydrous ammonia leaking in the area, that emergency crews worked to get fixed. "The plant does use anhydrous ammonia in its processing of the chicken and the things they have to do for cooling inside the plant," he explained, "Anhydrous ammonia is an inhalation hazard to human beings."

At least two other plants in the area were asked to shut down as a precaution. Waldrop said as they worked to secure valves, the going was slow because of the fire damage. Crews planned to check the air with a device, ventilate the building, and monitor the situation.

Employees alerted WHNT News 19 to the fire by sharing pictures of flames and smoke coming from the building. The fire was at the back of the plant.  Fire officials are working to find out just how it started and what happened.

The only employees that stayed at the plant were critical employees and managers. All others went home because the plant is closed until further notice.

There is no word on what started the fire. No one was hurt.