Hazlehurst officials react instantly to contain fire at Beasley - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Hazlehurst officials react instantly to contain fire at Beasley Forest Products

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Fire inside a lumber mill can cost owners millions of dollars and cost workers their jobs. We got a look inside a Hazlehurst mill that avoided catastrophe this past weekend. 

A disaster that happened two years ago helped prepare everyone to be ready this time. 

Crews at the mill have some electrical wiring and an electric motor or two to replace, but there's no damage to any buildings. They know, just like the firefighters of Hazlehurst and Jeff Davis County know, how easily this could have gotten much worse.

Most of the work at Beasley Forest Products continued despite the fire Sunday. A company spokesperson says the fire started from a belt underneath one of the machines. Fire crews did not hesitate.

"You look at the potential, when you get the call, and the amount of smoke that was visible," said Chief Charles Wasdin, Hazlehurst Fire & Rescue. 

Chief Wasdin and most of Jeff Davis County still remember the company's fire two years ago, across town at their Thompson Hardwood operation. 
That fire burned five million feet of treated lumber. 

Chief Wasdin says this recent fire could have gotten that bad if his department hadn't been proactive. They called in more volunteers than they might for an average fire. 

"Within probably 20 minutes, we had the fire mostly contained," the chief said. 

They ended up with more out-of-town help Sunday than they requested, including 22 neighboring departments, 48 trucks, and 145 firefighters. 
Chief Wasdin's not complaining.

"I'd much rather have a lot more people and not need them, than need them immediately and not have them on the ground," Chief Wasdin said. 

According to the company, the Beasley site in Hazlehurst generates more timber than any other in the Southeastern United States.

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