Fire Chief: Fire at former DuPont plant fully contained - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Fire Chief: Fire at former DuPont plant fully contained

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© Source: WMBF News Reporter Ken Baker © Source: WMBF News Reporter Ken Baker

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Fire crews worked through Sunday and Monday night trying to extinguish flames at the former DuPont Plant in Florence County, after it caught on fire Sunday around 11 p.m.

As of Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., crews entered hour 33 of fighting the fire. According to Windy Hill Fire Chief John DeLung, firefighters were working a few hot spots that still remained. 

At about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Chief DeLung confirmed the fire was 100 percent contained.

A guard on the scene noticed the fire and called for help. Chief DeLung says the fire is the biggest Florence County has seen in 20 years. There are no injuries reported, and responders used a "surround and drown" approach to put out the flames.

There were 11 fire stations and 65 responders on the scene Monday morning, where one wall collapsed, and the fire is contained to one section of the building but it is not under control. The biggest challenge for first responders is finding a water source, as they are pouring 1,000 gallons of water into the fire per minute, and the closest fire hydrant is more than half a mile away.

The DuPont Plant has been closed for a few years, and DuPont sold it in 2011 to a Wisconsin-based firm. It has been used most recently to store recycled plastic. It is the burning plastic that was proving a challenge to extinguish for firefighters, and crews with DHEC are on the scene to make sure the fire is not affecting air quality in the area.

DHEC has confirmed that particles in the air are not toxic at this point, and are consistent with any burning building. They will continue to monitor throughout the day and especially once fire is extinguished.

The intersection of National Cemetery Road and Paper Mill Road reopened Monday morning after closing for several hours.

Crews expect to be on the scene for the entire day. Horry County Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Scott Thompson said crews have been mobilized to assist, four firefighters have been in Florence since 11 p.m. Monday night. He continued to say mutual aid units are requested for Tuesday.

According to Midway Fire Rescue's Twitter account, "As part of the SC mobilization plan Midway Fire Rescue personnel are being sent to Florence, SC to assist with the DuPont Plant Fire."

On Tuesday all of the fire crews that were working on the scene left. The scene is now in the hands of investigators with the Florence County Sheriff's Office. Those investigators will now begin shifting through the charred remains and looking for evidence leading to how the fire was started.

"The fire on the perimeter is completely out.We still have spots in the center of the fire. The decision was made at 4:30(am)that we were going to just let them burn out," said Windy Hill Fire Chief John Delung.

At this point, fire crews are considering this fire suspicious because they could not easily spot where the fire began.

The Florence County Sheriff's Office will dig through bricks, piles of wood and the building's charred frame to determine what caused the fire.

"They are going to work in conjunction with agencies insurance company to make sure they do a proper investigation," said Delung.

The first step in that investigation will be removing the debris.

"Basically what they are going to have to do is sweep back down to the cement and dig through things as they come out and see if they can find any remains," said Delung.

Investigators are looking for heavily charred evidence; Delung said the heaviest charred pieces normally paint a clear picture of what started the fire.

Captain Michael Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff's Office says during the investigation there will be witness interviews, a financial investigation and a study on the time the call came in… to determine how this fire started.

Chief Delung says it's a relief that this fire is over and wants to thank all the fire crews who came out and to help knock it down. The insurance company for the company that owns the building is responsible for debris removal. It's still not clear how long this investigation will last.

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