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2 GREENSBORO WORKERS DIE IN VA. FIRE\ THE BLAZE AT THE PAPER PLANT REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.
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2 GREENSBORO WORKERS DIE IN VA. FIRE\ THE BLAZE AT THE PAPER PLANT REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

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Two men who died Sunday afternoon in a fire at an International Paper plant in Stuart, Va., were confirmed by Guy M. Turner Inc. of Greensboro as employees of the company.

The names of the Turner employees have not been released by their employer, International Paper or emergency services in Virginia.Turner, an industrial engineering firm, is under contract with International Paper.

International Paper said in a release that the contractors were disassembling a wood silo at the plant's decorative products particle board facility when an explosion occurred about 3 p.m. Sunday.

Floyd Nunn, director of Patrick County's emergency services, said about 200 fire and rescue personnel from as far away as Carroll and Henry counties in Virginia and Stokes County in North Carolina responded to the blaze.

Nunn said firefighters worked about six hours before bringing the flames under control. He said the combustible sawdust and wind enabled the fire to burn vigorously.

Although the fire is under control, wood materials continued to burn Monday, Nunn said.

He said the fire did not pose an environmental risk.

Sections of the road adjacent to the plant were closed by the fire and the emergency response teams. They remained closed Monday, Nunn said.

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, the company stated.

Aside from the company's own investigators, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will send inspectors, according to Susan Hosking, an International Paper spokeswoman.

The fire damaged the two wood shaving storage buildings and did not affect the plant or its equipment. No dollar figure of loss has been calculated, Hosking said.

Hosking said employment at the facility, which totals 114 salaried and hourly employees, would not be affected. The plant is expected to reopen within the next several days, the company said in a statement.

The plant has been in Stuart since 1922, but particle board manufacturing began there in 1977 when Masonite owned the facility.

Masonite is a division of International Paper.

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