Officials call for evacuation near burning Summerville plant - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Officials call for evacuation near burning Summerville plant

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Photo by Kimberly Barbour / WRCB-TV Photo by Kimberly Barbour / WRCB-TV
Photo by Lee Broome / WRCB-TV Photo by Lee Broome / WRCB-TV

UPDATE: Saturday, 2:20 p.m. -- According to the Associated Press, Chattooga County commissioner Jason Winters says two firefighters suffered heat-related problems but were treated at the scene.

Winters says firefighters were making progress toward containing the fire after battling the flames for at least four hours Saturday. He says air quality levels in the evacuation zone also appear to be improving.

Firefighters from nearby Catoosa, Walker, Polk, Bartow, Floyd and Cherokee Counties have been called in to help fight the fire.

UPDATE: Saturday, 1:20 p.m. -- Channel 3 reporter Kimberly Barbour reports from the scene that the fire is continuing to spread. You can follow her on Twitter @KimberlyWRCB for the latest from Summerville.

UPDATE: Saturday, 10:25 a.m. -- Officials with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency this morning said an evacuation has been ordered within a 1/4 mile circumference of the recycling facility in Summerville that has been burning since Friday afternoon.

They have also ordered an evacuation 1/2 mile downwind (currently east) of the facility.

So far there has been one report of injury involving a firefighter who was on the scene.

Original story:

CHATTOOGA COUNTY, GA. (WRCB) -- Massive flames and smoke could be seen for miles Friday night in Summerville, where a recycling center erupted. Fire crews say it will be days before the fire is under control, putting residents who live nearby on edge.

Many are already packing out of fear the fire could reach their homes.

Water lines were no match for the massive flames erupting from the Summerville recycling center.  "Carpet remnants, plastics, we really don't know what all is in there," Sheriff John Everett says.

The Berryton Recycling Complex inside the old Harriet and Henderson Cotton Mill caught fire shortly after 5:00 p.m. Friday, an hour after employees left for the day.

"We don't know if it's arson, a lightning strike, or other causes at this point," Sheriff Everett says.

Officials issued a non-mandatory evacuation for anyone within five miles, putting residents on standby.  "My daughter called me and gave me orders to get out of here, because I have to use oxygen," resident, Ive Spears says.

"I just hope it doesn't get the houses that are real close, or anything blows up," resident Kristin Burrage says. "I hope they can get it under control."

"We're just urging all the residents and citizens to try to stay away," the Sheriff says. "I know everyone wants to see it, but don't expose your children and yourselves to it."

Fire officials say the fire could burn at the same intensity for two to three days before it's under control.  At this point they are trying to determine what's fueling it, so they can decide how to knock it down.

"It's all the unknowns," Sheriff Everett says. "We are just working with the other agencies, trying to establish what we need to do."

No one was reportedly injured in the fire.

Crews will be on scene throughout the night battling the flames that can be seen from miles away.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates as they become available.

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