ALCOLU, S.C. (From news reports) - An explosion at Georgia Pacific's Clarendon plant injured one person Monday afternoon (Dec. 9).
A call came in about 4:30 p.m. about the explosion at the oriented strand board manufacturing facility, and "firefighters found active fire in one part of the production facility's duct work," Clarendon County Fire Chief Michael A. Johnson said.
He said firefighters and EMS personnel arrived to find a contract worker with injuries from a "work-related accident."
The worker was transported by McLeod Health Clarendon EMS for further evaluation.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire and explosion.
"Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire in a few hours," Johnson said.
He credited Georgia Pacific's fire suppression system and aid from Clarendon and Sumter firefighters with getting the fire under control and extinguished. Sumter Fire Department sent eight firefighters to the scene, an engine and a ladder truck; and Clarendon County Fire Department had 15 firefighters, five engines and one ladder truck. Firefighters arrived on scene about 4:30 p.m. and cleared the scene at 8:30 p.m.
Sumter Fire Department sent eight firefighters, an engine and a ladder truck to the scene, and Clarendon County Fire Department had five engines, one ladder and 15 firefighters respond to the blaze.
"It's great to have the working relationships that we do with McLeod Health Clarendon EMS and the Sumter Fire Department," Johnson said.
The facility in Alcolu is one of seven locations in South Carolina for GP, which produces tissue, pulp, packaging, building products and related chemicals that end up as household brands such as Brawny paper towels and Dixie cups as well as construction materials and aerospace products.
Clarendon OSB became a part of GP's Building Products division in 2010 when GP acquired the mill from Grant Forest Products. The mill then underwent a $30 million construction project to complete the building of the facility and started up production in 2013, according to GP in 2018.
Five years later, the company announced the expansion of a new 30,000-square-foot warehouse, a new state-of-the-art laminating line and the installation of additional equipment.
The $4.5 million investment driving the operation expansion was one of many made at the location in those 12 months. More than $6 million in capital had already been invested in 2018.
When the expansion was announced in October 2018, the Clarendon OSB facility employed about 150 workers, according to previous reports in The Sumter Item. Also at that time, GP's seven statewide facilities employed about 1,400 people.