Crews let Georgia Pacific plant fire 'burn out' due to water shortage

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UPDATE 10:00PM

The firefighter transported to the hospital has been released. Chief Wallen with the Columbia County Fire Department says it was one of their firemen, but it was a medical issue unrelated to the fire response.

We are waiting any moment to learn more during a briefing from Chief Sewell with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Office.

We are learning there are more than a dozen agencies assisting Thomson with this fire including:

Avera Volunteer Fire Dept
Columbia County Fire Rescue
Thomson Fire Dept
Thomson PD
McDuffie Fire
McDuffie Sheriff
Grovetown Public Safety
Augusta FD
Grovetown Public Safety
Harlem Public Safety
City of Washington FD
Lincolnton FD
Beulah Volunteer FD
Washington-Wilkes FD
Warren County FD
Jefferson County FD
Hillcrest Volunteer FD
Gold Cross
Ga Forestry Department

UPDATE: 8:00PM

Fire crews tells us they cannot get the fire under control, are running low on water, and they have pushed back their command post to Thomson High School. At this point, there is so much destruction, they say their only real option is to let the plant fire at Georgia Pacific burn itself out.

The forestry team cut a fire break around the plant to ensure the fire is contained to that area.

We also asked Georgia-Pacific what happens to the roughly 100 employees at the Thomson plant. This is all they can say right now:

“We will do everything we can to support the employees but will have to sort the details when we are finished dealing with the fire.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

THOMSON, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Firefighters are working to extinguish what's being called a "major fire" at the Georgia-Pacific building on Harrison Road in Thomson.

Fire agencies from McDuffie County, Warren County, Augusta, Avera, and Wilkes County are all on-scene to help fight the fire.

Rick Campbell, spokesman for the company, says company officials don't know how the fire started, but said it began in their raw material storage building.

That building, Campbell said, holds sawdust, wood chips, and other materials that go into particle board.

Campbell says an automatic sprinkler system was unable to extinguish the flames.

We're also hearing there's been a partial collapse of the plant that helps to manufacture particle board for furniture.

Luckily, all employees are accounted for, Campbell said.

Georgia-Pacific is one of the world's leading makers of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals.

More on this story as it develops.

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