Support Pours in As Firefighters Continue Battling Refinery Blaze - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Support Pours in As Firefighters Continue Battling Refinery Blaze

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - After days fighting fires at the Imperial Sugar refinery, firefighters are still battling flare-ups, hot spots and particularly stubborn smoldering fires in sugar storage silos.

So Williams Fire and Hazard Control crews from Texas and North Carolina that specialize in silo and refinery fires were called in. They arrived today, and were able to give advice to our local fire crews. Their equipment is arriving, and they plan to be able to be able to attack the fire around noon on Wednesday.

The sixth day of operations has proven to be another grueling day for everyone involved, but Chief Greg Long of the Port Wentworth Fire Department told us they planned to work into the night.

Whiles fires still burn inside the refinery, officials are making sure our cameras stay a safe distance away.

"Due to the climate today, we've had three more fires that have come up," said Chief Long in an afternoon news briefing. "We have suppression teams in place, actively being able to work those fires."

Fire is melting a huge amount of sugar inside the silos, with temperatures reaching 4,000 degrees. Firefighters say, if crews use the wrong thing to try to put the fires out, it could rupture like a volcano.

Part of the building has continued to collapse, and today the first rescuer was injured. A K-9 from a state recovery team fell into a  pool of hot sugar. His coat protected him, and he only had a couple of minor burns on his back leg. He's already back at work.

None of the emergency responders will rest until the two people still missing are found.

"Teams from Metter are in here," said Chief Long. "We've had firefighters who've come up from Glynn County. South Carolina. Now we're pulling in resources from Texas and North Carolina. The response that we've received is humbling, to see how many people actually care about the family that we have here."

The community support is as strong as ever. This is the worst tragedy the community has ever faced.

All six workers whose bodies have already been recovered have been identified, and their families have been notified.

Seventeen people remain in in Augusta being treated for burns, 15 in critical condition and two in serious.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com


 

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