Ga. Refinery Continues to Burn: Death Toll Rises to 8
Brian A Kennedy | February 14, 2008 at 08:01 amby
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A week after a sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga., exploded, firefighters continue to battle the blaze. The death toll is now up to eight.
Michael Kelly Fields, 40, died early Thursday at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, spokeswoman Beth Frits said. Sixteen other workers remained hospitalized there, 14 of them in critical condition, she said.
Seven other people have been found dead in the rubble at the at the Imperial Sugar Co. plant in Port Wentworth, and one worker remained missing.
Sugar dust is thought to be the cause of the Feb. 7 blast. Emergency crews were able to snuff out the fire at the plant's main building Wednesday, but the blaze persisted at the refinery's 80-foot silos.
Local crews had to call in a specialized team with powerful equipment to assault the silo fires, where thick masses of molten sugar were still smoldering even after a helicopter dumped thousands of gallons of water.
"They're still working on the fire, still trying to put it out," said Chatham Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Courtney Cunningham.
Emergency workers were able to pull a seventh body out of the second-floor break room Wednesday. Authorities believe the last missing person is in a section of the same room, which is still littered with wreckage.
The refinery is on a 160-acre site on the Savannah River upstream from Savannah. The plant is 872,000 square feet and about 12 percent of it was destroyed, company spokesman Steve Behm said.