Smoke pours from GA Ports warehouse blaze - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


Fight against two-alarm inferno continues

(Source: Geoff Torbeck) (Source: Geoff Torbeck)
(Source: Michael Godbold) (Source: Michael Godbold)

Savannah Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Mark Keller said at a news conference that a massive blaze has been contained at the Georgia Ports Authority's Ocean Terminal No. 3 on West River Street. But the battle to extinguish it continues.

Representatives from the Georgia Ports Authority, Savannah Fire and Chatham Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Coast Guard spoke at the news conference that was held at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Keller said the call came in at 11:28 a.m. for the massive blaze at the 250,000 square foot building and that they immediately sent a second alarm.

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police said firefighters from Savannah Fire and Garden City continue to work to contain the fire and that they are expected to work until as late as 8 a.m. Sunday.

West Bay Street between East Lathrop Avenue and Fahm Street has reopened to traffic, but police are cautioning drivers about driving in the areas around the active warehouse fire.

Griff Lynch, chief operations officer at the Georgia Ports Authority, said no one was in the building at the time and no one was injured.

Lynch said that a firewall in the middle of the warehouse helped contain the fire to half of the building and that only half the cargo of about 5,600 tons of bulk rubber from Indonesia was affected by the blaze.

The crude rubber was imported and bound for tire plants in the Southeast U.S. No firefighters are inside the warehouse fighting the fire. Part of the building has collapsed.

Keller the fire has been contained to the north half of the warehouse and that they are trying to keep it from the southern half of the warehouse.

SCMPD's Julian Miller said that those who are north of Bay Street between Lathrop and Fahm Street if they cannot get out of the smoke, then they should leave the area. No mandatory evacuation has been issued.

Keller recommended that people who live downtown or are in hotels downtown avoid staying outside if possible.

Chatham Emergency Management Agency Director Clayton Scott said environmental officials will be coming in to assess the smoke plume.

The Chatham County Health Dept. issued this air quality statement: "Smoke from any fire can be a respiratory irritant and will release particulate matter in the air. Avoiding the area and limiting exposure to the smoke is recommended. Children, elderly, and other individuals who have respiratory sensitivities such as asthma or other lung conditions should avoid exposure."

The 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard was called in to help support efforts to fight the fire. The 165th Airlight Wing is sending four firefighters and a P-19 Airport Rescue firefighting vehicle along with a foam trailer. The P-19 has the capabilities of shooting foam to fight the fire.

Savannah Fire is using industrial equipment to pump water from the Savannah River to help put out the fire. A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said they placed boom on part of the Savannah River to keep runoff out of the river and that there has been no impact on shipping on the river. 

Keller said there are firefighter reserve companies on duty to make sure the rest of the city has adequate firefighter resources.

Drivers are being asked to not slow down on the Talmadge Bridge and to keep moving. If the winds shift, the bridge may have to be closed.

The Savannah College of Art and Design issued an update: Shelter in place advisory for Turner, Turner Annex, Boundary, Weston & Dyson is lifted. Fahm, Alexander, Adler and Hamilton to reopen at 10 a.m.

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