Firefighters work around the clock to put out fire at peanut warehouse - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Firefighters work around the clock to put out fire at peanut warehouse

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

January 21, 2009

SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) - That peanut warehouse that burned in Sylvester Tuesday night is now filling the city with thick smoke and strong fumes.

Firefighters remain on the scene Wednesday evening, dousing hot spots and protecting nearby buildings.

And they're trying to remove tin and peanuts from the building so they can put it out once and for all. Officials say they haven't had any flare ups since early Wednesday morning. But that's because crews have been out all night and all morning constantly drenching the peanuts with water.

Officials say the problem is that the thousands of peanuts in the warehouse are packed in tightly and stuck underneath tin from the roof that fell on top of the peanuts when the roof collapsed last night.

So that's been the goal Wednesday afternoon: Remove the tin, Remove the peanuts layer by layer and soak with water, and then finally figure out how this massive fire began.

Fire lit the Sylvester sky, and the flames gutted the Farm Commodities Peanut Warehouse.

Wednesday that orange light was replaced with smoke and smog as firefighters still work to diffuse the situation.

"We are in the process of bringing in some equipment and moving the tin out of the way and digging the peanuts out and extinguishing the fire," said Assistant Sylvester Fire Chief Christopher Duncan.

And it's a slow process, one they don't anticipate completing before the night is over.

"The tin is over the peanuts and what we need to do is remove the tin so that we can get to the peanuts to extinguish them," said Duncan.

A job that seems almost impossible. Fighting a peanut fire is like fighting a grease fire because of the peanut oil, which is why firefighters are still on constant defense.

"It'll probably take a couple days to get it to where we want it to be," said Duncan.

More than 150 people from 41 South georgia agencies helped battle the hot flames, and the frigid cold weather.

Nearly two dozen Red Cross Volunteers have been there since the beginning to help.

"They're constantly having to rotate off, come in and get warm. We make sure they have snacks and coffee. This type of thing is a continuing operation, it's be going on for a few days," said Arthur Shipley, Red Cross Volunteer Chairman.

Now again fire officials still don't know how or exactly where the fire started. They're main goal right now is just to gut the warehouse and finally get everything under control.

Controlling this situation is taking a lot of water. I spoke with the water, gas and light commission said workers are using an estimated 4,000 gallons of water a minute.

But as of right now they aren't really concerned. They said if you have to have something like this happen, it's best it happened in the winter when people are using a lot less water in their homes.

As far as how the fire started, officials still don't know how it began, but the State Fire Marshall is coming first thing Thursday morning.

Owner Donny Ford said no one was working that night and as far as he knows none of the machines were operating. Mr. Ford said he plans on re-building as soon as he can, so they can be ready for peanut season in September. But this is definitely going to set him back. Feedback