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At least 3 explosions in fire at Brunswick chemical plant; neighborhoods evacuated

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Update: Glynn County officials just held a briefing shortly after 6 p.m. on new developments from the Symrise plant.

It has been reported that fire fighters used extra precaution battling the blaze. Due to the contaminants, extra safety measures need to be taken. Progress was slowed earlier in the day because a tank was not vented safely, and first responders needed to be pulled back to safety.

Evacuation orders for Satilla Shores and Royal Oak have been lifted. Residents are free to return to their neighborhoods and homes because the threat level has expired.

The temporary shelter at Ballard Gym will be closing as evacuees are being allowed to return home.

According to the briefing, “crews will be finalizing the monitoring of tanks, shutdown of valves and extinguishing spot fires on the site.” The next step is to coat the area with a foam blanket which will suppress the fumes from the plant. It will also help cool any hot spots.

Original Story: Multiple agencies are continuing to respond to an early morning fire at the Symrise Chemical Plant in Brunswick.

The call about the fire at the Symrise’s Colonel Island production site came in at 4 a.m. Monday, according to Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Capt. Eric Proswimmer said during an 11 a.m. briefing.


Before fire personnel arrived, there was an explosion, Proswimmer said. Three engines, a squad, a rescue and a battalion chief initially responded and the battalion chief called for more resources.

The crews fought the fire until the on-site water supply, which was 1.3 million gallons, diminished.

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Proswimmer said there were two additional explosions after that. He said the chemical they are dealing with is hydrogen peroxide with pinene.

The south side of the Port of Brunswick was evacuated around 6:30 a.m., Proswimmer said.

Hazmat teams from Jacksonville and Savannah are on scene to assist with the response.

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No civilians have been injured and one firefighter was taken to the hospital for exhaustion.

No one is in severe danger, but crews are being cautious and they are taking slow, calculated steps to fight the fire. Meteorologists are on site helping firefighters determine how far the wind could carry the chemicals.

Officials will alert those who have evacuated via social media when it is safe for those who have evacuated to return. A shelter has been set up for evacuees, which is about 100 households, Proswimmer said.

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Proswimmer said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The fire happened during regular production hours at the facility, which manufactures fragrance ingredients, Symrise said. Proswimmer said there were six to eight people working at the plant at the time of the fire and they are all accounted for and safe.

Evacuations have been ordered for the following neighborhoods:

  • Satilla Shores
  • Royal Oaks

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In Camden County, evacuation orders were issued for Hickory Bluff and Sanctuary Cove, but those have been lifted, according to Camden County Emergency Management Agency.

The shelter in place order that was issued for the following neighborhoods in Camden County has been lifted as well:

  • Dover Bluff
  • Waverly
  • White Oak
  • Lampadoshia

Glynn County Public Schools are not evacuating, but are sheltering in place with no outside activity.

In addition to JFRD, McIntosh County Fire and Rescue, Brantley County Fire and Rescue are assisting Glynn County Fire Rescue.

Symrise said it does not believe that the fire will cause additional health hazards to the local community and the company said it will closely cooperate and support local authorities in analyzing the causes for the fire as soon as the authorities allow return to the area.

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Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statement Monday morning about the fire, our sister station WSB-TV reports:

“Earlier today, local authorities alerted my office of a major fire at the Symrise chemical plant off of Highway 17 in Brunswick. I immediately instructed Director Stallings of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Colonel Wright of the Georgia State Patrol, Director Rick Dunn of the Environmental Protection Division, and Georgia Department of Transportation leaders to direct all available state resources to assist local responders.

“As the situation develops throughout the day, Marty and I are asking our fellow Georgians to join us in praying for this community and the brave first responders actively battling this fire. Continue to consult local news and public safety officials for any updates.”

Action News Jax has a crew at the scene. Check back here for updates.

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