Dangerous silo fire burns in Thomasville - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dangerous silo fire burns in Thomasville

September 22, 2006

Thomasville-  A dangerous silo fire is smoldering in Thomasville.  Smoke began to pour from the silo at Balfour Lumber late Thursday night and then an explosion. Workers have been sent home for the next several days and because of the dangers of another explosion, lumber officials can only watch and wait.

Smoke continues to billow from vents in the 45 foot wood dust silo at the Balfour Lumber Company. A spark ignited a fire deep inside the full silo in the last two days.

"We had an explosion Thursday night and it blew some of the vents off the silo," said Bryant Beadles, Balfour Lumber Co. President.

Fifty employees who normally work this side of the yard had to be sent home.

"Yesterday afternoon as soon as we saw the smoke and the fire department recommended that all the personnel in this area leave for at least three or four days," said Beadles. 

Inside the silo are wood shavings.  All the moisture has been pulled out of it and it's very flammable, in fact the lumber yard uses this as a fuel source to dry their lumber.

"Because this provides a heat source, the wood fiber provides a heat source, it's shut down other operations in the rest of the mill," said Beadles.

It's costing the company thousands of dollars and little can be done. Local fire fighters say it's too risky to knock the fire down.

"So we basically have to wait it out, let it burn, just let the smoke go out through the vent or just fill it with water," said Chief Bryan Croft, Thomasville Fire Department.

Four thousand gallons of water were poured on the silo last night, a garden hose works overtime to douse the blaze. It's one of the only things small enough to fit through the vent.

"We don't know what's going to happen, we're hoping we can keep enough oxygen out of it that it will smolder out," said Beadles. 

Until the fire is out, the silo remains a hazard and could explode at any moment.  Balfour Lumber produces one inch boards for home interiors and two inch boards used for framing a house.

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