Firefighters control blaze at Derrick Travel Plaza on Peeler Road

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 27, 2012

By Scott Jenkins
A fire this afternoon in a storage and mechanical room at Derrick Travel Plaza on Peeler Road resulted in no injuries, but it forced employees and customers to evacuate the business and caused smoke damage to the truck stop’s restaurant.
But if firefighters from a number of departments hadn’t worked together to quickly put out the flames, an official with the Salisbury Fire Department said, it could have been a “much more disastrous situation.”
The business, just off Interstate 85, is in the South Salisbury Fire Department district, and that agency’s personnel rushed to 1105 Peeler Road when calls came in that the structure was filling with smoke.
An employee at the truck stop restaurant, CW’s Cafe, who didn’t want to give her name said she was cooking an order when she began to smell something burning and noticed what “looked like fog in the air.”
She got a waitress and they went to the back of the building.
“The place was full of smoke,”?she said. “We just got everybody out.”
The first firefighters on the scene saw smoke coming from the rear of the business, Salisbury Fire Department Battalion Chief D.H. Morris said. They went to the second floor and found flames in a storage and mechanical room above the restaurant. 
They quickly called a second alarm to ensure they’d have enough manpower to keep the fire from getting out of control. Then firefighters attacked the blaze and put it out “relatively quickly,”?Morris said.
To help them see and fight the flames, firefighters ventilated the room, cutting a hole to the outside through the wall or roof.
“Crews made a great attack on the fire,” he said. “All the units worked well together.”
As employees, truck drivers and others looked on from outside the business, the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office was beginning its investigation this evening to determine what caused the fire. A firefighter with the South Salisbury department said it looked like it might have started in an air-conditioning unit.
Morris said the fire caused “minor to light” smoke damage in the restaurant. He said it was unclear when that part of the travel plaza would reopen, since its electrical wiring and the structural integrity of the second-floor room would need to be checked.
He said firefighters also encountered “very light” smoke in the travel plaza and truck center and ventilated that to minimize damage.
With the fire starting in a room where materials were stored, he said, the damage could have been extensive had it not been for the quick work of the responding firefighters and their decision to call in more resources.
“This could have been a much more disastrous situation,” he said. 
In addition to about a dozen fire departments, Morris said, the Rowan Rescue Squad and Rowan EMS responded to ensure firefighters stayed hydrated and healthy as they worked and their air tanks remained fully charged.