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All workers safe after blaze in Great Dane's Statesboro plant
4 firefighters suffered minor heat exhaustion
great dane horiz - eddie
Thick smoke billows out of the Great Dane plant on A.J. Riggs Road Thursday afternoon. - photo by EDDIE LEDBETTER/staff

A fire Thursday afternoon at Statesboro's Great Dane plant resulted in no major injuries, but four firefighters suffered minor heat exhaustion as the blaze added to already steaming temperatures.

About 100 cooling units in a staging area awaiting installation on refrigerated trucks were destroyed, said Great Dane marketing director David Grant.

An employee noticed smoldering equipment in the area behind a building and alerted others to a possible fire, he said. As Statesboro and Bulloch County firefighters responded around 2 p.m., huge billows of black smoke roiled skyward as the "higher winds" fanned the flames to spread to other cooling units, he said.

Bulloch County Fire Chief Christopher Ivey said the fire spread to the outer walls of a warehouse, but the building's sprinkler system activated, keeping the blaze from doing much damage inside.

Four firefighters suffered heat exhaustion, but no other injuries were reported, he said.

A.J. Riggs Road was closed during the fire, with Georgia State Patrol troopers and Bulloch County sheriff's deputies assisting with traffic control.

The fire was reported extinguished around 4 p.m.
Statesboro Fire Battalion Chief Derrel Melton said the cause of the fire is yet unknown. While the flames "never reached the interior," there was some heat damage inside. All Great Dane employees were evacuated safely, he said.

"We don't know much about why (the fire) started," Grant said. "Now it's a matter of trying to clean up and assess damage."

The plant was already scheduled for closure Friday, and is expected to open as usual Monday morning, he said.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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