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Massive potato farm fire brought under control

Potato farm faces second disaster in two weeks.
Potato farm faces second disaster in two weeks.
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Updated: 5/13/2013 12:31 pm
HASTINGS, Fla. --The State Fire Marshal's office is joining St. Johns County in the investigation into the cause behind a destructive industrial fire.

It destroyed five warehouses at Middleton Farms early Saturday morning.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue said the owner estimates the damages at $500,000.

It took several crews four hours to extinguish the fires, and they spent another day and a half putting out hotspots at the scene. It was a fire they are describing as one of the larger ones they've battled. The flames were fueled by the structures as well as the boxes and bags inside used to package the potatoes.

When Action News asked if there were any preliminary signs to suggest a cause, we were told by the department's spokesman, "It is under investigation. That is all we can say."

Reports of explosions were called into 911 just after 3:15 a.m. Saturday morning. Crews responded to the fire along the 300 block of East St. Johns Avenue and when they arrived, they say several warehouses were already fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters were able to save few other warehouses on the property, including the more expensive cold storage warehouse.

This is the second major loss for the St. Johns County potato industry in a week, especially at Middleton Farms. Last weekend an EF-0 tornado destroyed several barns and fields of crops in the Elkton area.

Storm damage estimates from the lost crops across Northeast Florida are estimated in the millions of dollars.
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