Fire rages at former pickle plant in western Kent

Volunteer firemen from Kent and Sussex counties, as well as Maryland, were called in to assist Felton Community Fire Company with a major fire at the site of the former San-Del packing plant late Monday afternoon. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

SANDTOWN — Smoke was visible from several miles away as a fire raged at a former pickle packaging plant in western Kent County Monday evening.

Several fire companies from Delaware and Maryland responded to the blaze at 3051 Willow Grove Road, about five miles from the Maryland border, at 5 p.m.

The Felton Community Fire Company served as lead agency for the blaze and was not immediately available for comment.

The Felton company’s live run log described the fire as a structure/commercial incident.

Fire raged inside warehouses of the former San-Del pickle and pepper packing plant in photos posted on the Camden-Wyoming Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Soon after the fire was reported, the Camden-Wyoming Volunteer Fire Company posted the photos.

Commenters described how far away the tower of thick black smoke could be seen — including from nearby Magnolia (12 miles) and Denton, Maryland (15 miles).

A flurry of reports alleged seeing smoke in Delaware from the Cape May Ferry heading into Lewes (42 miles) and at the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (47 miles) on Del. 1 north of Middletown, and in Maryland from Easton (44 miles), Kent Narrows (34 miles), and Federalsburg (30 miles), among others.

The property was last used for a wood recycling business, owned by Mike Davidson Enterprises. The operation, cited numerous times, was shut down by DNREC in 2014.

The Delaware Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.

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