Investigators Still Looking for Cause of Warehouse Fire - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/15/04

Investigators Still Looking for Cause of Warehouse Fire

Firefighters battling yesterday's blaze. Firefighters battling yesterday's blaze.

Last night, fire officials and police reopened the roads in the area around yesterday's monstrous fire on Montgomery Street in Savannah, but they kept one lane of traffic along Montgomery and one lane along Henry Street next to where the warehouse stood blocked off.

As of this morning, the lanes are reopened, but they're still looking for clues to find out what ignited this massive fire.

Yesterday, flames and heavy smoke pouring from the building turned the afternoon sky to night. Master firefighter Scott Barksdale told us, "We came down Henry Street and observed smoke going across the street and total blackness or darkness."

Firefighters attacked the fire with everything they had. They couldn't have too much help or water to beat back the flames, reaching dangerously close to their ladders. Thick smoke billowed from every crevice of the building, while the flames climbed higher and higher. Neighbors watched in amazement.

"Something blew up in there twice. Smoke came out and after that it got cloudy," said Randy Edwards. "After that, the flames. Those flames were so high, they made no sense."

Firefighters tried to fight their way in, but fearing for their safety, had to change their plans. "The fire was too much for us and ended up backing us out," said Barksdale.

The smoke made matters worse. "Close your eyes and try to walk through your house or a strange person's house," Barksdale described. "It's like that."

Police roped off the entire block to protect people from the heat, arresting those who got too close. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but firefighters were disappointed they couldn't save the building.

"It's hard to save, but we did the best we could," said Barksdale.

Now comes the next step for fire investigators as they sort through what's left of the building to try to make sense out of what happened. The initial report says the fire started in a boat that was being stored in the warehouse, but fire officials are still investigating.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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