Savannah Fire & Emergency Services firefighters "remain on the scene of an overnight structure fire on East President St. Firefighters continue to soak the charred remains of what had been a large, vacant, 2-story wood building that went up in flames just after midnight," a SFES spokesperson says.
Firefighters who responded to the scene reported heavy flames and thick smoke at the site just west of the Harry S. Truman Parkway. The building, which was constructed atop wooden pilings, was fully engulfed in flames upon their arrival. The fire had also extended to wooded areas surrounding the structure.
"Firefighters utilized ground hoses and aerial apparatus to douse the fire while Chatham County’s aviation unit provided airborne assistance with water from the nearby Savannah River. Georgia Forestry personnel also assisted by creating a fire break around the affected property. The blaze caused total destruction of a large portion of the building while the remainder of the structure sustained extensive fire damage," the department says.
Although the building has been vacant for several years, "it and the surrounding area were often utilized by some individuals for shelter. Several people were inside the structure at the time of the fire however they fled when the flames erupted," says the spokesperson.
One firefighter suffered minor burns to his hand while fighting the blaze and was treated by emergency medical personnel on scene. He received further treatment at Candler Hospital and was released early this morning. No other injuries were reported as a result of the fire.
Savannah Fire’s operation forced the closure of E. President St. to vehicular traffic between Randolph St. and the city’s wastewater treatment plant just east of the Truman Parkway.
"A portion of the westbound lanes were reopened just before 5:30 a.m. but the morning commute was marked by delays as motorists sought alternate routes to downtown Savannah. The eastbound traffic lanes remained closed until about 11:30 a.m. as firefighters continued their work in the area," the department says.
"Savannah Fire investigators were on the scene overnight and again this morning as they searched for clues to the cause and point of origin for the fire. At this time, both are still undetermined and the investigation continues. By mid-afternoon Thursday, the city’s property maintenance personnel were overseeing the demolition of the remaining portion of the building."