Officials Worry about the Environmental Impact Massive Fire is Having in Downtown LaFayette
UPDATE: Emergency crews have been working nonstop containing the fire at the old Barwick Mills Plant. Firefighters from both Georgia and Tennessee are assisting to put out the flames. Many neighbors say the smoke can be seen from miles away. County officials say the most important element they are battling is the environmental impact this massive fire is having on the area.
A continuous stream of water aims to cool off the old Barwick Mills plant Sunday morning. Emergency crews walk through the debris sifting through wreckage as a thick cloud of dark heavy smoke lingers over downtown. “Most first responders haven't gotten very much rest maybe two to three hours here and there. They have done a great job and we appreciate all the help we have gotten from the local area, Tennessee, Walker, Catoosa, ten plus agencies,” said LaFayette City Manager, David Hamilton.
As the smoke continues to billow out of the building the biggest concern for first responders is the effect this massive fire is having on the environment. “We are trying to determine what it is that is coming out of the building and how to contain it. How to protect the stream, EPA is doing air monitoring. We are testing the stream and testing what we can in our waste water treatment plant.”
Environmental crews huddle around the nearby stream testing the waters and sampling the air quality. The history of this plant has officials concerned. “They used to dye yarn, dye textiles here. We just don't know until we get testing back exactly what it is.”
As hot spots continue to burn throughout the old mill officials are thankful things are finally under control. “The fire is much more in control than it was. They are able to keep it back and it hasn't spread entirely through the building on the Northside, which is a very positive thing.”
Nobody was inside the building and no firefighters have been injured. Officials will not know what exactly started the fire until it cools down and they are able to get inside and investigate. Stick with Channel 3 for the most up to date details on this fire at the historic mill in downtown LaFayette.
UPDATE: These photographers wanted to see a train. But instead they shot flames.
“You just hear a loud boom or whatever, and then the smoke,” said Tyler Bishop.
Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles along U.S. 27. The flames that shot out of the old Barwick Mills Plant erased part of history.
“Several of my kinfolk have worked here in the past years, and it's a shame to watch it go up in flames,” said Angie Gamble.
The hazardous conditions of Saturday’s fire forced a train bound for Chattanooga with 187 passengers on board to hit its brakes. Steam didn't take them back to the station, but gas did. They hopped on buses to finish the journey home, while firefighters fought the blaze.
“We are still trying to determine any materials that may have been inside the building. We believe there was some latex inside the building,” said David Hamilton, City Manager, City of Lafayette.
As investigators work to get to the bottom of what sparked the blaze, the first responders inside are on the minds of those who watch them work.
“I just pray for the safety of the firefighters,” said Gamble.
Investigators tell Channel 3 that the building is a loss. As of now they tell us they are putting out hot spots and they have no injuries to report.
Count on Channel 3 to keep you updated on this story.
PREVIOUS STORY: LaFayette Fire Department is on scene of a large fire at the Old Barwick Mills plant.
LaFayette fire has requested for additional help from Catoosa County, Fort Oglethorpe, and Rossville along with a ladder company and three engine companies from Walker County.
Viewers have told Channel 3, a pedestrian train has been stopped due to the smoke from the fire.
Authorities said, the fire seemed to have started on the south side of the building and no one seemed to be inside of the building. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
We have a crew on scene and will have more on Channel 3 Eyewitness News.