Fire Guts South Carolina Fiber Plant

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- An overnight fire shut down a Spartanburg textile plant and left firefighters struggling to keep the charred structure from collapsing. Crews were on the scene of the Martex fiber plant on Southport Road...


SPARTANBURG, S.C. --

An overnight fire shut down a Spartanburg textile plant and left firefighters struggling to keep the charred structure from collapsing.

Crews were on the scene of the Martex fiber plant on Southport Road all night. Crews were called out to the plant just before 11 p.m. on Monday.

It took more than 60 firefighters to knock down the flames that officials described as "heavy" when they first arrived. Once they tackled the flames, crews worked to put out hot spots around the structure.

Several workers were inside at the time the fire was reported, according to fire officials. Everyone made it out safely, they said,

Martex recycles different types of cloth fibers used in the automotive industry.

Fire crews were especially worried about bales of the fiber inside the plant, according to Fire Chief Lewis Hayes. He said those bales swell when they come in contact with water. Hayes was worried the water used to fight the fire could cause them to become heavy, bringing the building down on the crews inside.

Hayes said it appeared they were able to stop the fire before it destroyed the valuable machinery inside the building, but some workers are now sidelined by the damage, at least temporarily.

"We just started coming back on full time, because the economy had us slowed down," said Richard Miller. "Now I don't really know what to say about the situation," Miller said.

Flames broke out in a warehouse where the company stores thousands of bales of cotton and polyester fiber, Hayes said. He attributes the construction of the building for keeping the fire from spreading. Hayes said the warehouse also had a firewall and a sprinkler system.

Martex lost about 3,000,000 pounds of textile supplies in the fire, Hayes said.

Hayes said the cause of the fire is under investigation. He said the company had security cameras in the warehouse, which they hope will lead them to the answer. Hayes said there is no reason to think this fire is suspicious. He said once they figure out the cause, they hope to learn how to prevent this from happening in the future.

While no company officials would speak to News 4 about the fire, Hayes said employees did report to work Tuesday at the plant's other facilities close by.

This is not the first big fire at Martex. Hayes said the same part of the plant burned to the ground about 15 years ago.

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