BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Thick black smoke billowed from the Pinova plant in Brunswick on Saturday, prompting voluntary evacuations and the set-up of shelters for neighbors as winds blew the smoke into surrounding neighborhoods.
Officials reported that the smoke plumes could be seen from miles away, and residents were forced to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
Temickio Billings, a neighbor, said, “It was like, oh my goodness. And then knowing you have kids, and they panicking, ‘momma what’s going on and why are we leaving?’ and I said, ‘That’s why we’re leaving.’”
Many Brunswick residents were told to voluntarily evacuate or shelter in place following a city-wide state of emergency throughout much of Saturday and into Sunday morning.
As of Sunday evening, crews were still on the scene spraying down the plant and investigating the cause of the fire.
The Environmental Protection Agency distributed air monitors around the perimeter of the plant to test and monitor air quality following the blaze.
Brunswick officials said that there were seven monitors at various locations engaged overnight, and no levels were registered to call for public safety concerns.
Antonio Mangram, a neighbor, said the only option for him was to shelter in place and hope for the best as he was taking care of his sick mother.
Two injuries were reported during the event, reportedly minor burns treated by paramedics onsite.
Damage to the plant included some structures, but chemical tanks remained intact.
In a statement released earlier this afternoon, Brunswick officials said they plan to meet with Pinova representatives in the coming weeks to discuss further preparedness and inspections.
“There are still three investigations into what led to the fire,” Brunswick officials said.
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