UPDATE: Wrens plant catches fire during demolition

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, May 2, 2013

WRENS, Ga. (WRDW) -- A fire at a plant in Wrens had firefighters climbing to the top of a solvent tank to put it out. The good news: The Glit Microtron plant is closed, so no employees were there, but that's also the bad news for the small town of Wrens.

Dennis Blake was taking out his trash when he saw the smoke.

"I noticed a lot of smoke coming from the area, the wooded area just across the street from my house. I kept staring at it because I kinda figured it was coming in the area of Glit," Blake said.

It's an area he knows well. He used to make the walk to his job at the plant every day.

"I been there for about 10 years. I just left there last week," he said.

He's just one of hundreds now unemployed after the plant announced its closing back in January of this year. Now, instead of working inside the plant, he's at home watching as the building burns.

"There shouldn't be nobody there, so I was wondering what could have caught on fire," he questioned.

Turns out it was the torches of the demolition crews working to tear down what's left at the plant.

"They're cutting the tank into two pieces so they can take the top half off, and the sparks blowing inside the tank set something that was in the tank on fire," said Assistant Fire Chief Mark Peebles with the Wrens Fire Department.

Fire crews say it took only 15 minutes to get the fire under control but because the fire was inside the tank, putting it out completely was a little trickier than usual.

"Due to the fact we couldn't get in the tank, at that point we couldn't actually go down there and put out the spot that was smoldering, so we just had to dump a bunch of water in there," Peebles explained.

While nobody was hurt in the fire, Blake says sitting at home not working is causing a different kind of pain.

"I'm kinda old, and at my age I know it's gonna be a little difficult for me to try to find something else or learn something else now. That kinda worries me right now," he said.

One hundred and twenty families lost jobs when the Glit Microtron plant decided to close. It was Wrens' biggest plant.

But, while they're tearing down what's left of Glit, a new Pyramax Cermaics plant is being built just a few miles away.

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