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Fire destroys cottonseed warehouse
Smoke still wafts through the air Tuesday afternoon after a fire broke out Monday night in a cottonseed storage facility at the Southern States cotton gin on U.S. Highway 301. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    A shattered shop light is believed to be the cause of a Monday night fire that destroyed a cottonseed warehouse, Bulloch County Fire Chief Christopher Ivey said Tuesday.
    Bulloch County and Statesboro fire departments were called out around 10:20 p.m. Monday to a raging blaze that melted metal and consumed many of the tons of cottonseed inside a warehouse at Southern States cotton gin on Goldkist Road off U.S. Highway 301 South.
    Ivey said the warehouse was “80 percent full” of cottonseed.
    The warehouse was engulfed upon firefighter’s arrival and efforts were made to contain the blaze, keeping it away from the cotton gin and several bales and modules of cotton that lay nearby, he said.
    Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn said the blaze was so intense, firefighters could not enter the building and fought the fire from outside. "They were in the defensive posture for quite a while," he said.
    Ivey said heavy equipment teams would begin tearing down the remnants of the collapsed cottonseed warehouse Tuesday.  The steel warehouse still stood upright, but the roof began to collapse on each end from the intense heat. Smoke still spiraled from the building as the cottonseed inside smoldered.
    "It is very unstable," Ivey said. Firefighting crews remained on the scene Tuesday morning to keep tabs on the situation. "We will be babysitting it for a few days. It is a mess out there but luckily only (the warehouse) was lost.”
    No one was injured in the fire. Further investigations by fire officials will continue.
    A spokesman at the Statesboro Southern States office who would not be identified said the company would continue ginning cotton, but he did not comment further.
    Calls to the Southern States headquarters in Richmond, Va., were not returned Tuesday.
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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