Durham County

Heavy smoke slowed firefighters in Durham printing plant blaze

Firefighters needed 40 minutes early Friday to work their way through heavy smoke to find its source, a burning press in an 80,000-square-foot printing plant, they reported.

The fire was in a printing press at Valassis Inc., a company that produces advertising and coupons for direct mail to homes and for use in stores and in newspapers, its website says.

Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi said the fire was reported about midnight Thursday, and 31 firefighters from the Durham and Parkwood departments went to the building at 4918 Prospectus Drive.

Some of the 41 workers at the plant at the time had tried to put out the fire before evacuating the building, but it kept burning, Iannuzzi said.

The same thing happened after the building sprinkler system went off.

By the time firefighters got into the building, the smoke was so heavy that they could not see well enough to spot the source and had to feel their way through the building, Iannuzzi said.