WASHINGTON, April 29 (Xinhua) -- A fire at a zinc plant in the southern U.S. state of North Carolina forced residents living nearby to evacuate early Monday, the authorities said.
The fire at the American Zinc Products plant in Mooresboro started Sunday night and was still burning in the early hours of Monday, local media reported.
Deputies went door-to-door warning people to evacuate as the burning plant released sulfuric acid into the air, and the Rutherford County authorities said about a half-mile (around 804 meters) area has been evacuated.
"Rutherford County Emergency Management is now advising that as a precaution, a half mile evacuation is currently in effect due to the air quality," the county authority announced on Twitter Monday morning.
Rutherford County Assistant Fire Marshal John Greenway told local media that firefighters have been pulled away from the scene as their gear tested positive for hazardous materials, noting that it was a cautionary measure until officials determine what chemicals they are dealing with.
According to the plant's website, the Mooresboro facility removes and refines metals to make "special high-grade (SHG) zinc and continuous-galvanizing grade (CGG)."