Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Nov 2 2014 14:07:25

Amazon Sellers React to News of Fire at FBA Warehouse

By: Ina Steiner

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A fire broke out at an Amazon fulfillment center located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in the wee hours of Saturday morning. The warehouse is known as "BNA3" to sellers who use Fulfillment By Amazon.

The Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department published details of the incident:

Around 1:00 Saturday morning MFRD crews were called to the Amazon Fulfillment Center on Joe B Jackson. A cardboard compactor had caught fire and smoke was present throughout the building. Employees were evacuated.

Prior to MFRD's arrival, maintenance crews at Amazon attempted to extinguish the fire with buckets of water and fire extinguishers. Crews still had to pull a line from the engine to extinguish the fire.

Firefighters used monitors to assess the atmospheric conditions in the building before giving employees the okay to enter the break room to get them out of the cold.


Crews stood by with charged lines while maintenance removed the charred pieces of cardboard from the compactor. MFRD crews cleared the scene around 3:30 and employees were allowed to return other areas of the facility.

FBA sellers expressed concern that their products stored at that location might be damaged, smell of smoke, or have soot on the outer packaging. Some sellers suggested opening a case for Visual Inspection to prevent any possibility that Amazon might send items smelling of smoke to customers.

One seller said when he prepared an FBA shipment on Saturday after the fire, Amazon directed him to send it to the Murfreesboro warehouse.

Many sellers displayed concern for the Amazon workers and said they were thankful it appeared no one had been hurt during the incident.

Some readers may remember an eBay seller with a warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee who had to face this reality back in 2008 in a double-whammy (first a tornado, then a fire six days later).

It's not clear that any products in Murfreesboro were damaged in any way - we've sent an inquiry to Amazon to learn more. But such incidences raise the question, what would you do if you had an incident in which most or all of your inventory was damaged, whether you store it in your own facility or a fulfillment vendor?

Update: Looks like good news. Amazon spokesperson responded to my questions with the following: "Our fulfillment center in Murfreesboro is fully operational and there is no impact to customer orders."

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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Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sun Nov 2 15:52:23 2014

If inventory is damaged, there really only two things you can do: (1) throw it out: or (2) sell it as damaged at a cheap price. Hopefully none of the merchandise stored there was impacted in any way.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: eBankrupted

Sun Nov 2 18:16:10 2014

If the smoke wasn't thick enough to set off the sprinklers, then it shouldn't smell like smoke in a 26' ceiling warehouse. If the sprinklers tripped, it will be a disaster.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 3 00:55:55 2014

The scenario IF this was a warehouse owned by EBAY:::

Fire breaks out with possibly damaging smoke and soot and odor.

Questions would not be answered and no public announcement would be made; sellers would not know that their items might have been damaged

Items shipped without inspection

Item received by buyer and reported as DAMAGED to ebay

Ebay /Paypal seize payment and record DEFECTS on sellers account

Seller attempts to contact ebay;  wait time is reported to be 36 Hours Hold on phone

When seller finally reaches ebay 4 Days later the non English speaking CSR initially tells him/her Oh yes we are so sorry for your concern and ebay will certainly make this right for you I will pass you on to my Suprervisor Hold please

After a further 3 Hours on Hold the sellers is told by non-English speaking CSR #2 that Oh we are so sorry for your problem you have been loyal ebay user since 1492 please let me pass you to the Account Specialist

After a further 4 Hours on Hold seller speaks to CSR #3 an English speaking person who informs seller that there will be NO revision of any feedback; multiple DEFECTS have been recorded ; that the seller should have KNOWN that ebays warehouses were inherently unsafe and they should have chosen a more reliable system and that there will now be a 30% premium charged against a seller who has a CASE opened for these ridiculous reasons and then the CSR will mention that only PART of the sellers 100,001 Feedbacks were as a seller and therefore all of their transactions are suspect and then they will hang up.

And then the sellers head exploded.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Nov 3 01:08:13 2014

Liability would appear to be the principle issue. Odds are that Amazon has protected itself by making the seller responsible and liable for replacing merchandise damaged or lost in their fulfillment centers.

I would love to be proven wrong, but Amazon is rapidly becoming as big a weasel as ebafia.

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by: Deltamaster This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 3 02:30:02 2014

I do not know the layout of the Murfreesboro facility but if it is anything like the Campbellsville facility the compactor in question is located on the receiving dock near one of the loading bay doors.

It is far from the merchandise storage areas but near the receiving area where the shipping cartons are opened and the merchandise is removed and scanned in to the database.

The facility here is HUGE and there are actually three distinctive sections separated by concrete block walls so there is little concern for smoke damage for such a small fire.  If they were quick and the employees opened the loading bay doors then the smoke would have likely gone outside more than inside.

Add to that the fact that there are large exhaust and air movement fans in the facility the smoke particulates would have likely dissipated throughout and after a few days would not smell any different than the regular smell of the facility.

Likely very little smoke damage and the water damage would have been isolated to the compactor and equipment in close proximity.

Maybe some merchandise on the receiving line might have been effected.

If the employees were back at work a few hours after the fire then it is likely to have been very minor, especially considering they cleared them to remain in the break-room during the extinguishing process.

I would venture to guess there is little to no concern for merchandise damage excepting for what was on the receiving line at the time which may have some smoke smell.

Chances are that supervisory and receiving staff inspected the merchandise more carefully afterward and set questionable items aside for further inspection and evaluation.

As fort he merchandise in the Mods... I would venture to guess they were unaffected as it seems the sprinkler system was not activated plant-wide if at all.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Mon Nov 3 06:05:17 2014

I'm glad that nobody was hurt.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers React to News of Fire at FBA Warehouse   Amazon Sellers React to News of Fire at FBA Warehouse

by: MADandCracked This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 3 07:45:06 2014

Thank you Deltamaster! Now I don't have to type all that. :) I work at CHA1. It sounds like the same setup as Campbellsville and (more than likely) Murfreesboro.  

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by: MADandCracked This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 3 07:48:03 2014

Oh, and I have no doubt in my mind that Amazon will not send out anything that smells of smoke to customers if any such items exist.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Mon Nov 3 10:03:45 2014

Congrats to the Murphreesboro FD for putting out the dumpster fire without the local police shooting any civilians.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Mon Nov 3 14:58:39 2014

Thanks all, and see update above, Amazon says inventory was not impacted.



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