LIBERTY—Crews working to dismantle a metal fixture on the roof of a Liberty Plant saw a fire ignite quickly Tuesday morning.
Liberty firefighters responded to the call at Liberty Denim Plant on Mills Avenue just after 8 a.m., and Assistant Chief Chris Rowland said his guys found a fast moving blaze.
“It escalated very quickly,” Rowland said. “When we got the call, we actually noticed heavy smoke coming from the mill from our station. It was already a big fire before we ever even took off. It progresses fast, especially when you are dealing with cotton and lint.”
Rowland said a crew was using cutting torches when things took a bad turn.
“They were actually using cutting torches to cut some metal off the roof, and accidentally caught the roof on fire,” said Rowland. “They are in the process of removing equipment and some parts of the building. Eventually they are going to tear down parts of the building. Today, they were just using cutting torches to cut that framework down. That’s when they had an arc of metal catch some cotton lint and it made a run down into the building.”
The Assistant Chief said the crew made attempts to put the fire out on their own.
“They attempted to put the fire out on their own,” Rowland said. “They put like 20 extinguishers on it and still were unable to get it put out. They were already calling us in the process.”
After seeing that the fire was getting too large, evacuations began.
“Everybody got out,” Rowland said. “They had several crews throughout the building and those crews notified all the personnel immediately.
Rowland said most of the fire was contained to the roof.
“It started on the roof and went down into the first floor via duct work,” Rowland said. “It caught a little bit of the first floor on fire, but most of the fire was out on the roof.”
The Liberty Fire Department initially made calls to Easley Firefighters requesting a platform truck.
“We got on it pretty quick.” Rowland said. “We initially called Easley because they have a platform truck and we were told that there was a roof on fire. When we stepped out and saw all the smoke, we made the call to Easley. We got water on it pretty quickly and did not have to use the platform.”
Easley Fire Chief Butch Womack said his crew was happy to provide aid.
“We just went down as a mutual aid for them,” Womack said. “We assisted them, but they got it out pretty quick. We had more a few more people come down to help with overhaul.”
Rowland is expecting damages in the $50,000 range.
“We’re guessing there was about $50,000 worth of damage between the structure of the roof, insulation and foam rubber. It was roughly $50,000 worth of material,” Rowland said. “The building is not functioning normally right now. They are just taking equipment out of it and tearing down parts of it. They are going to leave parts of it as a warehouse.”