Workers at Citizens LLC, a soybean granary in Charlotte, had just started firing up the plant around 7 a.m. when firefighters say an office worker noticed smoke coming out of part of the building.
"We got a call around 8 a.m. about flames visible at the facility," said Chief Kevin Fullerton of the Charlotte Fire Department. "When we arrived, there were flames coming out of the structure."
Six fire departments responded to the call and helped to extinguish the flames. Four departments took to the air and the fire was out after a couple of hours, authorities say.
"It was opened up so it was just a matter of putting a large amount of water on it to hold it down and then, getting more help in there so we could get it out," said Fullerton.
After the fire was out, excavators tore off the roof so firefighters could go inside safely and take out any other hotspots.
Neighbors across the street say, they did not even know there was a fire until they heard sirens.
"The one tower on the far side was totally engulfed," said Roy Therrien, who lives across the street. "As they worked on that one, the fire spread to the other two towers."
Plant owner, Robert Mansfield, says the damage is mainly contained in the fourth floor and is less than originally thought, but the fire will still set the plant back a couple of months.
"We have to rebuild a plant," said Mansfield. "That's a monumental task."