Firefighters battle massive blaze at Hazlehurst lumberyard - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Firefighters battle massive blaze at Hazlehurst lumberyard

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HAZLEHURST, GA (WTOC) -

Multiple fire units from several counties are battling a massive fire at Thompson Hardwoods in Hazlehurst.

The fire broke out around 7:30 a.m. Monday morning at the two-story wood processing facility that's located on Highway 341, which is among the largest in the U.S. So far, no injuries have been reported.

Fire officials say the fire started when a load of lumber was pulled out of a drying kiln, which dries out the boards for shipment. He said the wind spread embers from that load to other lumber in the warehouse where the kiln is located. All the lumber in the warehouse burned, as did the warehouse and the office.

The fire then spread to other stacks of lumber, jumping from one to another.

"Crews tried a direct attack at first, but had to back out because there was just too much, too much heat," said Hazlehurst Fire Chief Charles Wasdin. "Nothing in there but fire load full of lumber."

The heat was so extreme, metal parts of the building melted from the extreme temperatures. Some firefighters had to go to the local emergency room because of  overheating. They are expected to be OK. 

Sheriff Bohannon says the Georgia Forestry Commission is using a helicopter to drop water on the fire from above.

At this time, fire crews are working hard to keep the fire contained by putting water on the pallets to keep them from igniting.

The lumberyard employs about 350 people at this location, but they do have another location in the city.

Chief Wasdin estimates the fire is 65 percent contained. He believes they've saved the saw mill portion of the complex, but the office building is the biggest part lost.

Crews are expected to be on scene for another 24 hours.

WTOC's Dal Cannady is at the scene collecting more information from officials and will have updates as soon as they are made available. Check WTOC.com and WTOC on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

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