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How will Amazon FBA Warehouse Fire Impact Sellers?

Some sellers could be impacted by a fire that broke out at one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers early Saturday morning. However, customers are not impacted, according to Amazon spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman, who told EcommerceBytes, “Our fulfillment center in Murfreesboro is fully operational and there is no impact to customer orders.” See update below.

According to the local fire department, crews were called to the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at around 1:00 am Saturday morning after a cardboard compactor had caught fire. Employees were evacuated, then allowed into a break room due to the cold weather. They were later allowed to return to other areas of the facility.

The fire department said smoke was present throughout the building and said it had to pull a line from the engine to extinguish the fire. This despite the efforts of maintenance crews at Amazon who attempted to extinguish the fire with buckets of water and fire extinguishers prior to the arrival of firefighters.

The report cited no injuries due to the incident, for which sellers reacting to the news said they were grateful. But sellers who store products at Amazon warehouses did worry about the possible damage their inventory might have sustained.

The fulfillment center, referred to as BNA3 in FBA parlance, is only 2 years old, having opened its doors in September 2012. At the time of its grand opening in April 2013, Amazon said the warehouse was responsible for the creation of 1,100 local jobs and featured state-of-the-art technology, according to the Murfreesboro Post.

Many sellers expressed concern that Amazon might send products smelling of smoke to customers, and some suggested opening a case for Visual Inspection. “There goes half my inventory,” wrote one seller. While some expected a refund for damaged items, one seller said it was bad news for him because of low reimbursement from Amazon for books.

We specifically asked if there was any damage to FBA sellers’ inventory and have not received an answer.

Update 11/3/14: Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh confirmed today there was no impact or damage to inventory in the Fulfillment Center.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.