Crime & Public Safety

Update: Hardeeville fire officially out over 17 hours later

After over 17 hours of fighting a fire at a Hardeeville recycling plant, all that’s left is the cleanup.

Hardeeville Fire Department was called to the Caraustar Recovered Fiber’s building at 9:42 p.m. Wednesday, spokesman and Fire Marshall Joey Rowell said Thursday afternoon. Firefighters arrived just two minutes after the call to find a fire had started in the company’s paper product stored in a covered, outdoor area.

It took a couple hours to get the fire under control and then hours more to completely extinguish it and deal with hot spots, Rowell said. Firefighters were on scene working until about 3 p.m. Thursday. The plant is located at the intersection of U.S. 17 and U.S. 321.

“This could have been much worse,” Rowell said. The plant is shut down for now, but only about 5 percent of the building was involved in the fire after it spread from the outdoor area, Rowell said. A sprinkler system installed in the building kept the fire in check, but the paper products were packed tightly and it was tough to get to the heart of the slow, steady burn.

One Hardeeville firefighter was injured on the scene, but Rowell said his injuries were non-life threatening. The firefighter went to the hospital “as a precaution” and was released Thursday morning, ready to get back to work with no restrictions.

Bluffton Township Fire District, Jasper County Fire and Rescue and Levy Volunteer Fire Department assisted Hardeeville through the night, Rowell said. The local teamwork, quick response times and skilled firefighters were the “driving force” that kept the event from being worse, he said.

There is an investigation into the cause of the fire, but it may be difficult since firefighters had to handle and move much of the paper product that wasn’t destroyed, Rowell said. The plant has had fires in the past, but none in recent months, he said.

Now, crews are cleaning up from the fire and performing safety checks to evaluate the damaged areas and make sure the building is safe and ready for workers to return to their daily routines.

Joan McDonough: 843-706-8125, @IPBG_Joan