Tornado-damaged warehouse in Tennessee catches fire during cleanup operation

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A warehouse in Middle Tennessee damaged earlier this year during a deadly tornado outbreak was the site of another disaster on Friday when a fire broke out during a cleanup operation.

The Mt. Juliet Police Department said on Twitter the blaze broke out at the warehouse on Athletes Way North that was struck by violent weather back in early March.

"Part of the warehouse was destroyed during the tornado," police said. "Remaining product caught fire during salvage operations, and multiple fire departments are responding to battle the flames."

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Footage released by the department showed large plumes of dark smoke billowing from the warehouse in the city located east of Nashville.

Fire Chief Jamie Luffman told reporters it's believed the blaze began when crews conducting tornado cleanup efforts were moving debris out of the partially destroyed warehouse, which included car batteries.

"Some of the batteries were damaged, they were leaking, and when they got to moving them, I believe they heated them up, they caught the debris pile on fire, and this is the result,” Luffman said.

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High winds in the area fueled the flames, which Luffman said also caused "pretty toxic, bad smoke" to spur officials to order a shelter-in-place for those nearby.

A fire burns at a warehouse in Mt. Juliet, Tenn. that had a cleanup operation ongoing since a tornado struck the building in March.

A fire burns at a warehouse in Mt. Juliet, Tenn. that had a cleanup operation ongoing since a tornado struck the building in March. (Mt. Juliet Police Department)

Fire crews then let the fire burn itself out, the Tennessean reported.

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The warehouse was among the structures damaged when a powerful storm system struck Middle Tennessee on March 3, killing 24 people and devastated parts of Nashville.