New construction may have started warehouse blaze - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New construction may have started warehouse blaze

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June 2, 2005

Albany-- It took about three hours for firefighters to get the blaze under control. Heavy machinery has been brought in to push the papers products, and firefighters have been hosing them down all afternoon.

This was a very hot blaze. Employees spotted the fire quickly, and the alarm spread fast. Employee and witness Pam said. "One of the guys ran by, he said it's a fire, a fire."

There were about 20 employees working at Flint River Services warehouse, and many tried to put the flames out before they got too big. Warehouse Manager David James said, "We ran back, grabbed fire extinguishers. The fire when we got there, we emptied the extinguishers. It was about 8 feet tall. At that time we decided we had better get out of there."

Soon firefighters ringed the building, pumping thousands of gallons of water on the flames, but at first they could not cover the highly stacked paper rolls inside.

James said "Albany Fire Department, they went in there. I don't see how they could stand it, fighting that fire."

A huge backhoe was brought in after a couple of hours, and ripped the metal siding off the building. That gave firefighters a chance to shoot water inside, and bring the blaze under control. It did not take long to figure out what started the fire.

Construction at the back door, using welding and grinding equipment, created the spark. Welder Brian Seagroves said, "I was sitting there welding, and someone yelled 'Fire.' We went running, grabbing all the fire extinguishers, to try to put it out. But it was too big, so we just went ahead and got out of the building quick as we could."

The owners estimate the damage to the building and the paper products stored inside at $750,000. They say if the flames had spread from this one building, the damage could have been much worse.

The clean up is underway, and it could take much of the weekend to get the burned paper hauled away. But the owners are glad first that no one was hurt, and that the flames did not spread any further in this huge complex.

Flint River Services is a huge warehouse business in South Albany, between Masterfoods and Bob's Candies Buildings. The 175,000 square foot warehouse complex stores everything from agriculture crops like peanuts and corn, to paper products for Procter and Gamble.

Much of the building is huge refrigerated areas. The warehouse principal owner and President, Lem Griffin, said they were lucky.

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