SAVANNAH, Ga. – Traffic backed up for miles on Highway 80 and I-16 as more than 60 fire crews worked to control the blaze at a used car lot around 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve never seen anything this absolutely insane,” Stephanie Olson, who witnessed and caught the fire on video, said. “It was just contained in the building when we started watching and then it got completely out of control. At first it was just pops.”
The 21,000 square foot warehouse went up in flames near the corner of Prosperity Drive and Dean Forest Road in Garden City.
“The fire started inside and it’s full of various materials and car parts,” Corbin Medeiros, the Garden City Fire Chief, said. “We got on scene as fast as we can. We made a good initial stop, but it was just too far gone.”
“Metal shards flying through the air at you and you just don’t even know what to think,” Olson said. “All that you can think of at that point is you hope everybody involved is safe.”
All of the employees had evacuated out of the Shining Star Used Car area in time, but the fire continued to grow.
“You could hear the gas tanks in the cars poppin, and then 20 or 30 minutes later there were actual explosions,” Olson said.
Those explosions were caused by the chemicals inside.
“What they do is they take cars a part and salvage whatever parts they can and then scrap the rest,” Medeiros said.
Crews from Garden City, Pooler, Savannah and the 165th Air Wing fought the fire from all sides.
However, this did cause some major delays between I-16 and Highway 80. Kids were late getting home from schools as buses had to use alternate routes.
Several businesses were also shut down since no one could get in or out.
“Unfortunately because our hose is on the ground and we need the water we have to shut down Dean Forest,” Medeiros said. “There’s no other way around it. We do apologize, but we have to do what we have to do.”
That scene has since been cleared by fire crews Officials are investigating the cause and if the building is destroyed.