Fire at Farm Commodities creating smoky mess - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fire at Farm Commodities creating smoky mess

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

January 22, 2008

SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) - People in several south Georgia counties woke up to a thick layer of smoke Thursday morning.

That blanket of smoke came from Sylvester's Farm Commodities Peanut Warehouse that burned to the ground Tuesday night.

The smoke since settled, but some people in Sylvester had trouble breathing when they walked outside. One man says the whole town looked like it was on fire.

2,300 tons of peanuts roasted to a crisp when Farm Commodities Peanut Warehouse went up in flames.

"We're in the process of moving peanuts across the road from farm commodities, making sure they're extinguished," said Sylvester's Fire Chief Jody Yarbrough.

But now, almost two days after the fire started the big problem is this blanket of smoke that is now covering south Georgia.

"It appeared to be like the whole town was on fire. the smoke was very intense, very intense this morning. And the smell, it's worse than second hand smoke," said Johnnie Kent, a Sylvester resident.

"Between the smoke and weather this morning you had visibility of about 100 feet in front of you in the block or two blocks around the site," said Chief Yarbrough.

"I noticed earlier this morning when we had customers coming into CVS that some had masks on when they'd come in the store. We had some employees that were wearing masks because the smoke was blowing in the store," said Kent.

He even described it as chaos around his neighborhood.

"A lot of people were thinking their house was on fire. Neighbors were calling neighbors," said Kent.

Even people in Albany and Tifton complained about the unpleasant gray blanket.  The smoke drifted over 30 miles from ground zero.

"We hope to have enough moved during the day today and get the extinguishing done so we can reduce that to basically nothing in the morning if at all possible," said the Fire Chief.

But if the heavy smoke does make its way far beyond the warehouse again, Dr. Phillip Allen at Albany ENT says to just stay inside as much as possible.

"It's most important if you have a lung condition to stay away from the smoke. Things like asthma, lung disease, if you're on oxygen, if you're elderly...these are people that should take extra care to stay away from the smoke exposure," said Dr. Phillip.

Fire officials say they hope the spoke clears by Friday night.

Officials still don't know the cause of the fire.  The fire did an estimated 1.5 million dollars worth of damage. Feedback