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Cotton gin fire contained

GATES – Heavy smoke from a fire at a local cotton gin caused some travel difficulty in the area of Cotton Gin Road and US 158 on Monday into Tuesday.

Billy Winn, Director of Gates County Emergency Management, said electronic message boards were erected along US 158, warning motorists of the smoke and urging them to slow down.

Winn said he expects the smoke to linger on Tuesday, perhaps into Wednesday.

“What happened at the cotton gin was the spontaneous combustion of seed stored in a warehouse,” said Winn, adding that the seed is of the silage variety, meaning it’s used in the production of animal feed and not used for planting.

“The fire was noticed earlier in the day on Monday,” Winn continued. “Workers at the gin began the process of separating it, spreading it out in an effort to put out the fire. But with all the cotton lint it’s virtually impossible to extinguish. Basically all you can do is let it burn itself out.”

There was some earlier concern about smoke hanging around Central Middle School. However, with a favorable wind direction, Winn said the smoke was nearly non-existent on Tuesday morning.

The gin is owned and operated by several Gates County farmers.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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