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Recovery efforts continue at sugar refinery
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Port Wentworth reportedly called in a private firefighting company on Tuesday, to help with the fires that continued to burn after Imperial Sugar Refinery experienced an explosion on Thursday, Feb. 7.

“Really there’s nothing new to report,” Bryan County Director of Emergency Services Jim Anderson said Wednesday. “Fire crews were down there over the weekend and it’s plodding along. We’ve been involved; Saturday we had about 10 personnel and Sunday we had about nine that were down there and I’ve been out there this week with the emergency mobile command vehicle.”

Anderson said no official information about the missing employees has been released.

The search for the missing workers, one of them reportedly Byron Singleton of Pembroke, was temporarily put on hold Sunday, as crews continued their efforts to extinguish fires and gain access to areas of the refinery blocked off by debris and fire.

“I believe they temporarily suspended recovery efforts so they could stabilize those sugar silo areas, and that began on Sunday,” said Mike Wilson, Sergeant of Public Affairs for the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department. “Recovery efforts have been going, on and off, since Monday, and are continuing at this time.”

As far as information about the six employees who were reportedly killed by the explosion, or the two still reported missing, Wilson said once all the recoveries and notifications to next of kin have been completed, that information will likely be released.

The Associated Press reported the fire continued to burn in the sugar silos on Wednesday and was more stubborn than officials anticipated, with the fire reaching down to 10 or 12 feet below the surface.

The refinery is estimated to be about 12 percent destroyed, but Imperial has plans to repair the plant, the AP said.

To help the families of refinery employees, the United Way of the Coastal Empire is currently accepting donations. They are asking any donations to include the memo “Victims of Imperial Sugar Fire,” to ensure the money is correctly directed. Donations can be sent to 428 Bull Street, Savannah GA 31201, 651-7700, The United Way said 100 percent of all donations will go directly to the families of these local victims.

Donations can also be sent to the Imperial Sugar Company via their ISC Savannah Associate Relief Fund, c/o Frost Bank, P.O. Box 9, Sugar Land, TX 77487-0009. Imperial said the company will match all their employees’ donations.

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