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Three injured in Georgia industrial park fire, explosion

Posted on by SST

Fire crews responded to a chemical explosion that occurred inside an industrial facility located near Valdosta, Ga., resulting in three people being sent to the hospital via a medical helicopter.

According to Southwest Georgia's FOX News affiliate WFXL, the Valdosta Fire Department arrived on the Gil Harbin Industrial Park scene at about 2:30 p.m. Aug. 14 in response to a chemical explosion and fire at the PermaFix Environmental Services company. PermaFix, located at 1622 James Rodgers Circle, processes waste such as ink paste and aerosol cans. Black smoke emanating from a building that processes both hazardous and non-hazarous materials could be seen for miles. Due to the nature of the chemicals processed at PermaFix, the industrial park was evacuated in addition to nearby roads.

"All we can confirm is that there was a fire at our Valdosta facility, and the Valdosta Fire Department has responded," said Ann Smith, director of communications at PermaFix. "We are concerned for the safety of our employees."

Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress told The Valdosta Daily Times that three people were injured and medivaced to a local hospital, however, the state of their injuries was not disclosed. Currently, the fire is under investigation. Officials from the Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are determining if the area meets safety standards. 

Containing the blaze
By 4:30 p.m., as a result of coordinating an effective fire suppression strategy, more than 40 firefighters managed to get the fire under control. The prompt response can be accredited to the help given by the Moody Air Force Base Fire Department, Lowndes County Fire Department, in addition to the Georgia State Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Valdosta Police Department and the City of Valdosta Fire Department, among others.

Thus far, the specific chemicals that are processed at the plant, or the exact cause of the explosion have not been determined. The PermaFix facility experienced another fire recently, and it is not clear what role, if any, fire detectors, or other fire alarm system equipment designed to mitigate the impact of fires, played in alerting the Valdosta Fire Department. The extent of the damage to the facility has not been determined.

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