A fire at the Mars Chocolate North America plant in Waco burned six trailers Tuesday afternoon.
The fire at the candy plant at 1001 Texas Central Parkway, which started shortly after 1 p.m., reportedly began with one trailer, city of Waco spokesman Larry Holze said. Strong wind fueled the fire and caused flames to spread to about six trailers parked outside the building.
“From what we’ve been told, there is no interior damage to the building itself, maybe just some smoke damage,” Holze said.
The facility was evacuated, and there were no injuries reported, Holze said.
Thick, black smoke was visible from as far as downtown Waco, and 11 fire units responded.
It was unknown whether the trailers were being loaded or unloaded, and it was unknown what product, if any, was in the trailers at the time of the fire.
The blaze resulted in traffic congestion near the site on Texas Central Parkway. Police closed Imperial Drive from Old Hewitt Road through its intersection with Texas Central Parkway to give access to fire crews.
“There were several tractor-trailers that were backed up against the dock that appeared to have been involved in a fire,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said. “From a law enforcement standpoint, we are here to assist them.”
Midway Independent School District was not directly impacted by the fire, but officials asked parents of Midway High School students to take Mars Drive from Hewitt Drive and to avoid Imperial.
“In addition, students transported by school buses may experience some delays as the buses avoid these areas as well,” according to a Midway ISD statement. “We are in communication with fire and police departments at the scene and have been informed that the fire is under control.”
The plant marked its 40th year in Waco in December and is a major producer of Snickers and Skittles products. It employs 520 people.
The fire was under control within about an hour and a half after fire crews were called to the scene, Holze said. Other area fire agencies assisted Waco fire and handled additional calls in the area.
Employees were cleared to return to the building later in the afternoon.
“We are always very concerned with the number of people, employees, here and their safety,” Holze said. “They are a major employer, and of course our major concern is the safety of employees. I am just proud that we were able to handle a major incident like this and I think we did a great job.”