Brunswick mill fire cause undetermined

By Rocky Nimmons

PICKENS — The cause of a fire at the old Brunswick Yarn building on Oct. 9 is still under investigation, but Pickens Fire Chief David Porter says that his department has ruled it unknown.

Porter told Pickens city council during its regular meeting Monday that investigators with several insurance companies have sealed the area around the old mill, but he feels with the debris and damage the fire caused it is unlikely that a cause will ever be determined.

“The Brunswick fire is the largest fire we have dealt with since I have been chief,” Porter said. He added that the layout of the interior of the huge building was such that it made it impossible to get inside safely, and his department had to go into a defensive operation. Six separate fire departments were called to the scene to help, including the use of Central and Easley’s ladder trucks.

The blaze, which was reported around 10 p.m. on Oct. 9, continued to burn throughout the next day. Porter said that firemen on the scene were exhausted from the battle, pushing him to call on Anderson and Oconee County departments to relieve them on the following Wednesday.

“We could not contain it with the roof falling in. We just could not get underneath it,” Porter said.

One of the issues faced by the firefighters was lack of water pressure around the mill. Porter said that trucks pulled water from other lines around the city to get more water at the scene.
“We used more than 2 million gallons on the fire, and I have no idea how much the sprinkler system inside the structure used,” he added.
He said he believed the fire burned for at least two to three hours before it was reported.

“At least 200 firefighters were on the scene, and we had over 60 man-hours in overtime as a result,” Porter said.

“It has been reported that hydrants around the mill did not work, but they all did,” Porter said. He thanked the many fire departments that lent a hand to help control the fire.

“We all worked until about 4 p.m. the next day containing the blaze,” he said.

Mayor David Owens lauded the work of his department in their efforts and publicly thanked the many departments that came to the city’s aid in the emergency.