Cordele peanut fire continues to smolder

Cordele peanut fire continues to smolder

CORDELE, GA (WALB) - A fire at a Crisp County peanut plant has destroyed $750,000 worth of peanuts. The manager at GFA Peanut said the situation got worse around 2:15 Tuesday morning when the roof of the silo exploded.

Teamwork by first-responders allowed the company to salvage several hundred tons of peanuts.

A Georgia State Patrol helicopter dumped water on top and firefighters from 3 counties sprayed more than 600 gallons a minute, but a drone wound up being the biggest help.

"When the drone went up in the air, we [were] able to get a bird's eye view of actually where the bulk of the fire is and that's going to allow us to concentrate our stream on where it's going to be most effective," said Crisp County firefighter Willie Jackson.

A tactic that proved most effective after nearly an entire day of blindly spraying water in the silo.

"The smoke went from dark-brown, black to white. That means we're actually getting water on the fire. Helping it cool down," said Jackson.

Officials also worked in the sheriff's office's mobile command post--guiding crews on where to spray water while watching a camera on the GSP helicopter. The company's manager is thankful for the work of all the first responders.

"The peanuts are made up of anywhere from 45 to 48 percent oil. So when you get it burning it's almost impossible to put it out," said GFA Peanut Association manager Richard Crozier.

And he's happy that even with lost inventory and equipment totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, no one was hurt.

"When you look back at it, we hate that there's a loss of peanuts and loss of equipment and material, but at the same time, the safety--none of our people were hurt. None of their people were injured," said Crozier.

Crozier says the silo could burn for several more days. Firefighters are worried about the silo collapsing, but so far it is still standing.

Crews will remain on the scene of the fire until it is put out. EMS and firefighters from Worth, Sumter, and Crisp County worked together.

Traffic was also blocked at nearby Crisp County elementary school this morning while crews ran a hose nearly a mile down 24th Avenue. Sheriff Billy Hancock says it's vital to keep people safe while managing the logistics of an emergency like this.

"It's a team effort to make sure that everybody is safe, protect everybody's property as much as possible, and be able to bring this to a quick and safe resolution," said Sheriff Billy Hancock.

Authorities believe a chemical sprayed on the peanuts could be the source of the fire.

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