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Families worried about air quality after Rowan County scrapyard fire

Rowan County Communications responded to a reported fire at Holmes Iran and Metal on North Long Street in Spencer around noon Wednesday.

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. – Families in Rowan County are finally able to go back home after a massive fire broke out in a scrapyard Wednesday.

It started before noon at Holmes Iran and Metal on North Long Street in Spencer. When firefighters reached the scene, they saw heavy flames and thick smoke coming from the scrapyard.

"It was just like big and bright and then there was just like a whole lot of black smoke."

Workers said the fire started when a van that had just come in suddenly burst into flames, sending the surrounding neighborhood into a panic.

"It's like toxic, and I know it's some bad stuff over there, and for it to be burning, and us breathing, it's not good."

Charlotte Fire sent crews to assist with putting out the fire. At one point, Duke Energy reported over 1,600 outages in the area, but power was later restored. Rowan County Communications said people can go home now that the power is restored and the fire's hot spots were put out.

Neighbors were told to shelter in place and close all door and windows. A shelter was opened at the Hurley YMCA in Salisbury for anyone needing a place to stay. It was set to close at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Flames still visible at Holmes Iron and Metal as multiple crews work to put fire out. #wcnc #breakingnews

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One firefighter suffered from heat exhaustion. Fire officials have not yet determined the cause of the fire.

NBC Charlotte's Richard Devayne and Kendall Morris contributed to this report.