At 18:54 on 12/12/19, a passerby reported to 9-1-1 that a building on the property of Clean Management at 915 Industrial Road north of Walterboro was on fire, with flames coming from the building. Colleton County (SC) Fire-Rescue Engine 19, stationed less than a mile away, arrived within minutes, to find heavy fire conditions in a storage and processing building. Most of the structure was a large open air canopy style building used for storing and neutralizing industrial waste. The building also contained several offices, file, and break rooms. The building contained hundreds of 55-gallon steel drums and plastic containers of varying products. First arriving units requested a second alarm, then deployed multiple 2-1/2 and 1-3/4 handlines. Two drop tanks were set up for water supply with tenders shuttling water for the firefighting effort. Firefighters cut a section from the fence surrounding the property to gain access to the building and forced entry through the front and a side door.
Crews worked for 40 minutes to gain control of the fire and were at the scene for five hours performing overhaul. Much of the product was saved, but the building suffered extensive damage. The area over the offices also received heavy damage, but the interior of the building was saved, receiving mostly smoke and water damage. Several pieces of heavy equipment were also destroyed or damaged in the fire. Two firefighters were transported to Colleton Medical Center for evaluation following exposure to one of the substances, upon the recommendation of Chemtrec. Both were treated and released the following morning. Viewing surveillance video, it appears the fire started near a piece of heavy equipment parked in the middle of the facility about 30 minutes after the business closed. The fire quickly spread from there to the other parts of the building.
Engine 19, Engine 26, Engine 27, Tender 1, Tender 5, Tender 9, Tender 19, Tender 26, Tender 27, Tender 32, Tender 36, Ladder 19, Medic 1, Medic 9, Medic 19, Medic 26, Battalion 1, Car 104, Car 105, Car 107, Car 112 and Car 118 responded. Battalion Chief Scott O’Quinn and Captain Janey Laney operated the Command Post. SCDHEC and the Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.
Photos by Harold Buzzell
Barry W. McRoy, Fire Chief, Colleton County Fire-Rescue