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2013 IN REVIEW: Blaze Destroys Dietz & Watson Plant in South Jersey

(Heavy equipment was being used to clean up the site of a devastating fire at a Dietz & Watson warehouse on September 1, 2013.  Credit: Tim Jimenez)

(Heavy equipment was being used to clean up the site of a devastating fire at a Dietz & Watson warehouse on September 1, 2013. Credit: Tim Jimenez)

Mike Dougherty Mike Dougherty
Mike is a general assignment reporter and editor for KYW Newsradio...
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By Mike Dougherty

DELANCO, N.J. (CBS) — A massive fire last Labor Day weekend destroyed a meat processing company’s distribution center in Burlington County, NJ.

The 11-alarm blaze brought more than 200 firefighters from 28 departments across South Jersey to the Dietz & Watson plant (see related story) in Delanco.   Smoke could be seen from center city Philadelphia.

Electrified solar panels prevented firefighters from gaining access to the roof (related story), and their water cannons were no match for the roaring fire.

“There’s no way I could put anybody up there, and that’s a hinderance to us,” said Delanco fire chief Ron Holt, who added that water supply became the primary concern:

“After using so much water, New Jersey American Water called us and said, ‘You have to cut back, or within 10 minutes you’re out of water.’ “

So they pumped water from the Rancocas Creek, a mile and a half away, and eventually put the fire under control.

Then came the smell.  The stench of rotting meat could be detected from miles away, and it lingered for several weeks (another related story).

Now, there’s almost nothing left of the 260,000-square-foot warehouse. Dietz & Watson says it plans to rebuild, but there is no timetable.

More 2013 Year in Review stories

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