Over 100,000 pounds of cotton destroyed in possible arson - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Over 100,000 pounds of cotton destroyed in possible arson

COLQUITT CO., GA (WALB) -

State arson investigators are working to find out what started a fire that torched more than 160,000 pounds of cotton at a Colquitt County Gin.

Not only is it a busy time for business at the Gin, but now workers are tasked with taking care of the aftermath the fire which continues to smolder.

Workers at Funston Gin Company have a big mess on their hands.

"It's going to be pretty close to 100,000 dollars worth, that was destroyed," said John Stallings, Co-Owner of Funston Gin Company.

Monday night 160,000 pounds of cotton went up in flames within a matter of minutes outside the Gin Company, something that could of been an act of vandalism.

"We had 13 modules engulfed in flames," said Stallings.

A driver unloading cotton noticed two people running from the scene shortly before the blaze. Now, state arson investigators are looking into the cause.

"I'd say most likely it's a 90 percent loss," said Stallings

Due to the high winds and flammable materials, the fire spread quickly, so firefighters had to work fast to protect a nearby house. Thankfully, they were able to save 25 modules of cotton but the cotton, is either burnt or wet.

"We will be lucky if we are able to salvage ten percent of what was burnt," said Stallings.

Now, on top of all their normal duties at the Gin, workers are also responsible for keeping a close eye on the cotton for flare ups.

"It's still on fire on the inside he's constantly putting them out every hour to two hours," said Stallings.

The fire department let them borrow the tools needed to fight any additional fires.

"It's going to be a tough road those two weeks more than likely," said Stallings.

But they're hopeful insurance will help out a lot. 

"For the labor and time we put into it we will never get that back but the producer will be pretty much taken care of that's the owner of this cotton," said Stallings.

In the meantime, this yard they need for cotton storage is off limits and for the next two weeks Gin employees will continue dealing with the aftermath of something that may have been avoided. 

If you have any information on this fire, call the Colquitt County Sheriff's Office at 229-616-7430.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.  

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