Multiple fire crews from several different counties continue to work the scene of a massive fire that broke out Monday morning at Thompson Hardwoods in Hazlehurst.
The fire broke out around 7:30 a.m. at the two-story wood processing facility that's located on Highway 341, which is among the largest in the U.S. So far, no injuries have been reported.
Fire officials say the fire started when a load of lumber was pulled out of a drying kiln, which dries out the boards for shipment. He said the wind spread embers from that load to other lumber in the warehouse where the kiln is located. All the lumber in the warehouse burned, as did the warehouse and the office.
The fire then spread to other stacks of lumber, jumping from one to another.
WTOC spoke with the men that responded first.
"I really cannot explain it. I have been a firefighter since '94, and this is the worst I have ever seen," said Wayne Feller, the first firefighter at the scene Monday morning.
"I saw the flames coming up and I knew right then it was going to get hot real fast. Fire can do whatever it wants to do," Feller stated.
Firefighter Jamie Davis was the second firefighter to arrive to help Feller.
"It felt like it was burning right through your gear, you just had to keep backing up and backing up," said Davis.
The heat was so extreme, metal parts of the building melted from the extreme temperatures. Some firefighters had to go to the local emergency room because of overheating. They are expected to be OK.
"I walked outside because my chest was hurting and I had a headache and then I passed out, just blacked out," said Feller.
As of Monday night, crews had the fire about 80% contained.
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