Fire at CCSI destroys more than 10 million pounds of pecans - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fire at CCSI destroys more than 10 million pounds of pecans

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January 15, 2008

Camilla-  A fire continues to burn inside a Camilla pecan warehouse. Some schools in Mitchell County closed early Tuesday because of low water pressure.

Millions of gallons of water have been used to battle the blaze that's already burned nine percent of Georgia's pecan crop. More than 10 million pounds of shelled pecans inside the Camilla Commodities Services Incorporated have burned.

Flames roared and smoke and intense heat created a black tornado above Camilla Commodities Services Incorporated along Baggs Ferry Road. 13 hours into the firefighting effort water did little but prevent the fire from spreading.

"We had temperature well over a thousand degrees. It was melting the steel in the roof system itself causing the roof to collapse so, it was a very intense fire," said Camilla Fire Chief Randy Walker.

Firefighters from 11 departments had to keep their distance as they struggled to keep the fire contained to one of the four pecan warehouses at CCSI.

"We realized once the flames were coming through the roof one area of the building was obviously not going to be savable, so we are concentrating all our effort on what hasn't burned as of yet," said Walker.

It was Gloria Hawkis who first spotted the smoke around 8:00 last night. She and neighbors today kept a watchful eye on the fire.

"I saw there was some smoke and a dude came across the street and told me to call 911 for him so I did that for him," said Hawkis.

"It was frightening because I thought it was going to explode or something," said Lazaro Esquivel.

Neighbors found themselves with little or no water pressure, because most was being used to douse the flames.

"The city water has been boosting pressure as best they can to this area to increase the amount of water we have available," said Walker.

Firefighters say they'll keep dousing the flames, likely throughout the night again, in hopes of keeping this fire under control and from doing more damage.

Cold temperatures Monday night proved hazardous for firefighters on the roof trying to douse flames. The water froze on the metal roof forcing firefighters back on the ground and hampering their efforts.

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