COPY-Dozens Hospitalized, More Injured in Imperial Sugar Explosion - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

COPY-Dozens Hospitalized, More Injured in Imperial Sugar Explosion

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - The Savannah Fire Department is reporting that there has been an explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery.

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At least ten people are being taken to the Augusta Burn Center.

The Savannah River has been closed from the Talmadge Bridge to the Hoolahan Bridge to all vessel traffic both commercial and recreational, according to Coast Guard officials.

The Coast Guard also says helicopters and boat crews are searching the Savannah River for any persons in the water.

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It happened around 7:30pm. Reports indicate the explosion came from the bag area of the refinary.

Savannah-Chatham police say more than a hundred are injured. Several emergency units as well as crews from WTOC are on the scene right now and will bring you more information as it becomes available.

Emergency personnel have set up triage operation at the site of the plant, as some of the wounded are airlifted to the hospital.

There are reports that officials are evacuating parts of the area.

So far no confirmed fatalities.

Lifestar has made several trips from the site and ambulances are pouring in to the hospital. Family members trying to find out about loved ones are being escorted to the emergency room and into parking areas by police.

The Red Cross is also responding to the scene.

Joyce Baker was the first emergency reponder on the scene and she spoke with us via phone a little while ago.

"We were at the Port Wentowrth courthouse and we stepped outside after a meeting and we heard the explosion and we saw the sparks and the flames shoot up," Baker explained. "The ground shook, my husband was with me and we raced over here, he's a Port Wentworth police officer. I got my trauma bag out and by the time we got out there, there were already 13 people coming out with third degree burns and it was like walking into hell."

Ambulances as far away from Liberty County are responding to the scene to help take wounded to the hospital.

Triage operations at Memorial University Medical Center

Reports are coming in that residents as far away Garden City and Levy, South Carolina, heard and in some cases felt the explosion.

A number of roads are blocked off in the area and police are asking to avoid Highways 25, 21 and DeRenee Avenue if possible so emergency personelle can get through.

Firefighters of the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, have joined the rescue operations at the sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, GA. 

The 165th AW, who normally provides emergency response needs at Savannah International Airport, have sent a 2,000 gallon tanker truck, an Air Compressor trailer to refill oxygen tanks, and moved a pumper truck to cover Savannah Fire Station 13 and the airport.  In addition, 3 firefighters responded to the call.

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