Firefighters were called to the Winston Weaver fertilizer plant several times over the past five years, before a blaze in January prompted evacuations. 

Winston-Salem emergency crews have been called to the plant for fire-related incidents a total of five times since 2017, according to reports obtained by WFDD.

In 2017, firefighters responded after white, heavy smoke with a chemical smell was reported near the plant. The source of the smoke was identified as smoldering ammonium nitrate, which crews were eventually able to extinguish. 

Crews responded again in 2019 after a meter box caught fire on the side of the building. Another electrical incident called them back in March of 2020 when wiring began smoking but did not catch fire. 

Then in December of 2021, fire and hazmat crews removed a pile of fertilizer material from the plant after a machinery failure caused it to smolder. 

Firefighters returned only a month later on January 31, when a major fire there forced thousands to evacuate. That incident is still under investigation.

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