Thousands of pallets burned up and a storage shed was destroyed Wednesday afternoon in a fire at Lanier Pallet Recycling, located on Hwy. 334 just south of Commerce.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately known, but a spark from the business' incinerator is considered likely, a company spokesperson said. Strong winds quickly spread the fire across the company's lot.
Fire departments from all over the county responded, with tanker trucks shuttling between the fire and fire hydrants — and to a pond at Huber Engineered Woods — to bring water to the scene.
"We lost 25,000 pallets, two buildings, a tractor, a trailer, several pieces of equipment, but no lives," commented Michelle Lewis, who with her husband owns the business, which employs 17. She said local fire personnel "did an excellent job" in bringing the fire under control and limiting damage.
The Department of Transportation closed Hwy. 334 and detoured traffic around the scene.
"Units from all fire departments in Jackson Count, Jackson County Rescue, Jackson County EMS, Banks County Fire and Madison County Fire responded," wrote Steve Nichols, director of the county's Department of Emergency Services, in a memo to county manager Darrell Hampton. "Approximately 30 units responded with approximately 100 persons on the scene for assistance."
The fire started at about 12:15 and was brought under control at about 4 p.m., according to Nichols. The blaze rekindled early Thursday morning and fire crews were sent back. The flare-up damaged the back of one of the two remaining buildings, Mrs. Lewis said.
The fire also knocked out power for some 363 Jackson EMC customers. Crews worked into the night to restore power.