Firefighters One Week Later - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Firefighters One Week Later

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - The past week has been grueling on firefighters. They're exhausted, emotionally drained but holding up.

Like many of them Thunderbolt, Chief Carl Smith has been there since the beginning.  He was at home last Thursday when the call came in about the fire at the Imperial Sugar factory. He said he could feel the explosion more than eight miles away. Immediately he started heading toward Port Wentworth.

"You never think of something being this bad when you first get on the scene," said Smith.

It didn't take firefighters long to figure out they were dealing with something most of them had never seen before. "We're trying to fight fires, multiple fires, multiple patients, dangers of other collapses, trying to figure out to make sure there's not going to be another collapse."

Day after day, the same thing, no time to stop, to rest or to even reflect on what happened and the fact it's been a week is the farthest thing for their minds.

"I think they're running together for most of us," said Chief Smith. "I think for a lot of people they didn't even realize it has already been a week."

That's because everyone is working on one thing, bringing the last missing employee home. "That's our main focus to bring closure for the families and help them start healing better and our guys can start healing better."

Healing that they can't start right now, but are going to need when it's all over and done with.

"It's difficult. When you're draining in there and you see some of the things you're seeing, you never get used to that," said Smith.

Chief Smith says, once this can be turned over to investigators, everybody can actually sit back, take a deep breath and relax a little bit and let some of the tension off.  

Reported by: Christy Hutchings, chutchings@wtoc.com

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