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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