Eastern Wharf fire now fully extinguished, cause under investigation

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Crews have fully extinguished a massive fire at the Eastern Wharf development in downtown Savannah, the Savannah Fire Department said Saturday morning.

Two units will remain on scene conducting overhaul throughout Saturday. The property will then be turned over to Choate Construction Company, and Savannah Fire will conduct a 24 hour fire watch.

Savannah Fire crews first responded to the construction site fire on General McIntosh Boulevard just after noon Thursday.

“It looked like the fire moved around to the other side and they moved their equipment to the other side and that’s when we saw flames jumping above the garage over there,” said Peter Jamin who was staying at the Marriot with his wife.

The department deployed 20 units to battle the three-alarm fire.

According to fire officials, the layout of the multi-story, wood frame construction made fighting the wind-driven fire difficult.

“We were creative in working with the construction company sprinkler system and standpipe system in place,” said Savannah Fire Chief Derek Minard. “We were able to get that operational and our crews were able to tap into the standpipe system, which was a supplement by to our fire apparatus.”

Savannah Fire, with the help of crews from Garden City, Pooler and Chatham Fire, contained the fire Thursday night. Crews worked through the night and all day Friday to extinguish hot spots. By Saturday, Savannah Fire says the fire was extinguished.

“I’ve been in the fire service for 30 years and throughout my 30 years I’ve seen a lot of very large fires,” said Savannah Fire Chief Derek Minard. “I can say from my personal experience this was probably the largest.”

An estimated 200 to 300 construction workers were in the area when the fire broke out. Officials said no was hurt, but one employee said some people lost their tools and are now out of jobs.

“We put a lot of work in the building so far for it to be I would say probably 60 percent done and then it just all went up in smoke,” said Tony Bennett, General Superintendent for BayHill Construction, “you know its bad thing for everybody.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Savannah Fire investigators conducted interviews of employees Thursday and Friday. When the structure is cool enough, investigators will search for any remaining evidence inside. The ATF National Response Team has offered its resources to assist with the large scale fire scene investigation.

Meanwhile, roads that were closed Thursday are back open to traffic.

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