Investigators have determined a short-circuited light socket is the cause of a massive Garden City structure fire that injured one, rerouted school buses and backed up traffic for hours last week.
Garden City firefighters, along with Southside Fire, Pooler Fire and the 165th Airlift Wing, responded to the Shining Star One Inc. on Dean Forest Road about 2:30 p.m. April 13, after a blaze broke out at the 20,000-square-foot warehouse, engulfing the metal structure at the automobile scrap yard and sending black plumes of smoke into the sky.
Firefighters were able to contain the blaze in about 45 minutes, according to Garden City Fire Chief Corbin Medeiros, but clouds of smoke still continued to blanket the sky for hours.
A short circuit in a warehouse light socket sent sparks and embers into a vehicle fuel cell, officials said. The sparks caused a domino effect among the gas-filled cars with one exploding after another like popcorn kernels.
The Chatham Emergency Management Agency was also called to the scene because of the fuel and unknown chemicals.
“They are actually extremely lucky because a fire this big can be devastating,” Medeiros said. “Especially if someone happened to get trapped in a building, it could have been a lot worse.”
One firefighter sustained minor injuries during the incident, and a Shining Star One employee was taken to the hospital for low blood sugar, officials said, but both individuals are OK.
Garden City Mayor Don Bethune said the fire, while devastatingly unfortunate, is evidence of the importance of multi-agency cooperation.
“I feel like our units did a very good job and called for assistance and saw that it was beyond our control,” he said. “We all worked very well together and that’s why it’s good to have this mutual aid agreement. It was unfortunate that the building burned down, but it is very good that we were able to call on the resources that we needed and that no one was seriously hurt.”