Photo by Jim Morekis
The blaze at Eastern Wharf, as viewed from Trustees Garden to the west.
The new and highly touted Eastern Wharf development, still under construction just east of the Savannah Historic District, was the site of an enormous blaze late Thursday morning, with the Savannah Fire Department containing the fire for the most part by early afternoon.
No injuries were reported in the fire.
The fire was in the hotel/residential area of Eastern Wharf, contiguous with the parking garage, also under construction.
The area is adjacent to the Marriott Riverfront, and was clearly visible from President Street as well as from the Trustees Garden area.
Roads in the immediate area were closed down, and citizens are urged to avoid that side of downtown if at all possible.
As of 6 p.m. Thursday evening, Gen. McIntosh Blvd. was still closed to traffic. East Broad at East Bay is closed for eastbound traffic only. Broughton at East Broad is closed for northbound only. President at Rudolph is closed for northbound traffic.
Savannah Fire indicated that indications are the fire started in the fifth floor of the construction site. 911 was called by construction workers who noticed smoke.
Savannah Fire responded immediately, with a total of 20 units eventually responding. About an hour after the blaze started, their Marine 1 firefighting vessel was staffed and also helping to contain the fire.
Marine 1 had been slated for complete mothballing by the previous City Council and City Manager in order to cut costs, but a crew was available to staff it today.
As the fire worked its way to the rear of the building, fire crews were able to gradually contain it.
Some embers from the fire were caught in the wind and taken across President Street, but were quickly put out.
As the fire first blazed, a citizen driving west on President Street took a video of a Savannah Fire truck on the way to the scene being stopped by the northbound train that often crosses President Street, and having to wait with other traffic.
Eastern Wharf is on the site of the former Savannah River Landing mixed-use development, an investment which went under after the recession of 2008.
City taxpayers underwrote over $30 million worth of bonds for parking facilities at Eastern Wharf, approved by the previous Council.
We will update this story as developments occur.