Investigators seeking cause for Fitzgerald Fire - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Investigators seeking cause for Fitzgerald Fire

Part of the Warehouse of the Suncoast Bedding company still smoking Friday, roughly 26 hours after the fire began Part of the Warehouse of the Suncoast Bedding company still smoking Friday, roughly 26 hours after the fire began
Investigators searching the Suncoast Agri-Product facility on Friday after a portion of the building was engulfed in flames Thursday morning Investigators searching the Suncoast Agri-Product facility on Friday after a portion of the building was engulfed in flames Thursday morning
Jason Miller, Ben Hill County EMA Director Jason Miller, Ben Hill County EMA Director
Part of the roof of the warehouse that collapsed from intense heat Part of the roof of the warehouse that collapsed from intense heat
Some of the pine bedding still burning on Friday, nearly 26 hours after the fire began at the Suncoast Agri-products bedding facility in Fitzgerald caught fire Some of the pine bedding still burning on Friday, nearly 26 hours after the fire began at the Suncoast Agri-products bedding facility in Fitzgerald caught fire
FITZGERALD, GA (WALB) -

Flames continue to burn at a Fitzgerald plant that caught fire Thursday morning.  Friday, state fire marshal investigators searched the Suncoast Agri-products warehouse for causes to that fire. And it could be a little longer before they find any answers. 

Arson hasn't yet been ruled out, but investigators don't suspect anyone intentionally set this fire.

The piles of rubble continue to smolder nearly 26 hours after the blaze began.

"It was a very long, very hot day.  We had a very extensive warehouse fire," said Jason Miller, Ben Hill County EMA Director.

Now, investigators are searching the ashes for answers.

"It ended up taking some of the production facility.  The actual grinding mill at the back and part of the transfer conveyers next to that were saved.  The other they're still seeing if it's even salvageable," Miller said.

Suncoast Agri-products makes pet bedding out of pine chips, which lined the warehouse.  And as the flames spread, witnesses reported hearing explosions.

"I think the explosion thing comes from the propane cylinders exploding on some of the forklifts inside," said Miller.

Firefighters said the blaze that started in the warehouse ultimately moved into part of the production area.  And they actually had to tear down part of the building just to contain the flames that still burn.

"We didn't have any fire related injuries other than a laceration to one of the fire fighter's hand from some glass.  I really was very pleased with that outcome," said Miller.

Thursday, Mayor Mark Massee said the fire may have been electrical, but no answers have been found in the ongoing investigation.  The Fitzgerald Fire Department, The Ben Hill County Volunteer Fire Department, Ben Hill County EMA and Sheriff's Department and emergency staff from Tift Regional Hospital were on scene.

"We had a lot of local industries bring ice and drinks.  Some of them near right down the road and other wood products manufacturers brought drinks and some vehicles to move around on the scene a little better," said Miller. 

And the plant's manager already wants to get back to business.

"He's very upbeat and they're gonna go back to work.  They're gonna put this plant back together is what he said," Miller said.

The total amount of damages are not yet known. 

Insurance investigators were on scene earlier Friday to assess the losses.  The Fitzgerald mayor said ongoing heat and flames have prolonged the investigation, which will likely extend until the beginning of next week.  

 

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