Firefighters in Delanco, New Jersey have been attempting to extinguish a blaze that started at a Deitz and Watson warehouse at 1:45 p.m. Sunday. It is speculated that solar panels may have caused the fire, though no information will be certain until after the flames have been put out and an investigation is conducted. The 74-year-old Philadelphia company packages hams, salami, and other beef and pork cold cuts from its Bridesburg plant; chicken and turkey from its Baltimore works; and cheeses from its Corfu, N.Y., plant to the Delanco distribution center.
As of late Sunday, fire crews were prepared to use the Rancocas Creek as a water source when its encountered a problem with its supply. A fuel tank and a fireboat were sent to assist with the team's dwindling supplies. Firefighters also have to be wary of the solar panels as they pose an electrocution risk. The Burlington County hazmat team tested the air quality and concluded that the panels were not releasing toxic chemicals, but residents who live nearby were encouraged to stay indoors.
Delanco Police Chief Jesse DeSanto said the plant, which was built for $20 million, was closed for the Labor Day weekend. No employees were inside the facility at the time of the fire, and only two security guards were working outside of the plant. Steve Riley, Dietz and Watson spokesman, said that nearby distribution centers had a sufficient supply of its pending orders, so orders would continue to be sent out unhampered by the fire.
"This is a tough Labor Day weekend for the Dietz & Watson family, but we are relieved all of our employees are safe," chief executive Louis Eni said in a statement. "It will take more than a fire to set us back." The 11-alarm fire is now 50 percent contained, officials said.