PICKENS —The cause of a fire that burned down nearly half of Brunswick Yarn Mill in Pickens County last Tuesday night remains undetermined.
“We’ll probably never know,” said Pickens Fire Chief David Porter. “We’ve moved so much stuff around to get to the collapsed ceiling and get the fire put out. With everything moved around and nothing to look at except metal, you’ll probably never know.”
Porter says he has seen nothing that has appeared suspicious about the blaze.
“There’s no reason to believe (there was arson) at the present time,” said Porter. “Investigators will look through it, and if there’s something there that they find, they will proceed with it. Otherwise they will say that the cause of the fire was undetermined.”
The fire department responded at around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night. Porter says there were about four separate parties occupying the building, none of which were present during the fire.
“There were four different places,” said Porter. “There was a canvas/tarp company on one end. Below it was a cabinet shop. In the lower building there was a used furniture sales (shop). The lower building is the one that burned.”
Porter says there was nothing major that was stored in the open space that burned.
“The furniture (section) was burned,” said Porter. “Other parts of the building suffered water damage.”
After initial attempts to contain the fire, Porter says backup became clearly necessary.
“We were there for a long period of time, and the guys that were on the initial attacks were worn out after two or three hours,” said Porter. “You want to get people to replace you because fatigue can cause injury.”
Porter says fatigue can be a dangerous thing during a large structure fire.
“Because of us having to crawl through smoke trying to find the fire, you’ve got to watch your air in your air tanks,” said Porter. “If you get in there and run out of air, and you’ve got a long ways to go to get out of there, you’re going to be in trouble. That’s why we had to have people come in. We called all of the volunteer fire departments in the county except for maybe one or two.”
In addition to needing some extra hands on the scene, Porter says there was a shortage in water.
“We didn’t have enough water to operate with,” said Porter. “We had to set up tanks to dump the water into, and the trucks pumped water out of those tanks. We had five or six tankers that were running a half a mile down the road to Sparks Lane to fill up. After using them until four or five o’clock in the morning, and we knew we were going to need more people and more water, someone suggested we call Anderson and Oconee County.”
The departments from Anderson and Oconee took over early Wednesday morning.
“All of our cleanup was done on Wednesday,” said Porter. “We cleared out at around 4 p.m.”
The blaze marks the second mill fire in Pickens County in less than a month. The Easley Fire Department responded to a fire in Alice Mill in September, but Fire Chief Butch Womack says he believes there is no reason to suspect the two fires are related.
Pickens City administrator Katherine Brackett says cleanup will be taken over by the county since the mill was just outside of Pickens City limits.
An investigation is still underway.