Only on 12: YouTube video shows trespassers at site of fire

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock; April 23, 2008

CLEARWATER, S.C. --- Frustration and a lot of hard work lately by the Clearwater Fire Department battling fires at the Clearwater Finishing Plant. Now, News 12 finds YouTube video of trespassers inside the plant.

The latest fire at the plant this past Friday. News 12 found the YouTube video before the Aiken County Sheriff's Office or any official from the Clearwater Fire Department knew about it.

Fire sirens, the sounds the Clearwater Fire Department hears all the time as they gear up for yet another fire at the Clearwater Finishing Plant. The plant is still standing right now, but the latest fire on Friday. There is an investigation into the fire. That investigation, by the Clearwater Fire Department, shows the cause is most likely arson.

"It didn't occur on its own. There's no electricity, no source that could have caused it other than someone starting it by the way of arson," says fire chief Mike Toole.

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office says their investigators are not investigating this fire. Nor were they asked by the Clearwater Fire Department to investigate.

It's been more than a dozen times the fire department and others have been called to the finishing plant.

"Now, it's reached a point that it's unsafe to send the firemen in there to extinguish the fire," says Mike.

Unsafe for them, but News 12 exclusively finding video on YouTube of kids running through the abandoned plant just 8 months ago. News 12 also finding video showing an apparent fire extinguisher being thrown out of the plant. News 12 knows this by simply looking at the subtitle on the YouTube video.

News 12 also finding a third video of two boys running around the former mill, inside and out. At the end of the video, there are three names. Those names the Aiken County Sheriff's Office is now looking into to find out just where they live.

All in all, there are several fast paced steps that even the Aiken County Sheriff's Office or Mike Toole didn't know about, until News 12 told them about the video on Wednesday.

Now, Mike is asking the owners of the plan to add private security to make sure his department doesn't see any more fires, or trespassers, at the plant.

The Sheriff's Office tells News 12, trespassing is a misdemeanor. But, they are not taking this lightly. Sheriff Michael Hunt is looking into the videos that News 12 told them about. We will continue to follow this story as it develops this week.

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  • by Anonymous on Apr 27, 2008 at 09:38 AM
    kids get bored of playing games and listening to music eventually. unlike most of the old folks that watch the news, kids have a sense of adventure. and with the towns growing rapidly... theres nothing to explore. Corporations are tearing down our woods to builds a walgreens or walmart or a new church. abandon buildings are the only thing kids have left.
  • by Marla Location: Aiken on Apr 25, 2008 at 01:39 PM
    I think its prety funny how once again people are getting caught by putting videos on youtube. put they are fun to watch
  • by ariella Location: wi on Apr 25, 2008 at 08:51 AM
  • by LadyLuck Location: Langley on Apr 24, 2008 at 07:35 AM
    The fire dept must not be too worried about the finishing plant. They used to go there to practice fires at night. That is dangerous with all the big holes in that place. As far as the boys, I really hope they are caught and questioned. Clearwater Fire Dept has always been a big joke to the communities. The other fire depts in the area laughs at them.
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