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Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 2:33pm

UPDATE: Fire at Savannah Port Contained, Residents Warned of Dense Smoke

Updated: 9 months ago.
Georgia Tech students Megan Fechter and Daniel Wise stopped to watch the smoke plume during a visit to Savannah Saturday afternoon. Photo credit: Sarah McCammon

A fire that sent a massive smoke plume into the air over Savannah on Saturday has been contained, but worries about air quality continued into early Sunday morning.

Savannah Fire spokesman Mark Keller advises visitors to the downtown area to avoid being outdoors until the air is clear of smoke.

"Just stay inside as much as possible," Keller says. "Any smoke is dangerous to breathe, whether it's smoke from a fireplace or whether it's smoke from burning rubber."

Keller says he's hoping the plume will continue to dissipate, rather than settling in downtown Savannah. He says the spread of the smoke will depend on weather conditions such as humidity and wind.

The National Weather Service in Charleston, S.C. has issued a dense smoke advisory for the area until 11 p.m. Saturday. (Update: That advisory was extended to 6 a.m. Sunday morning).

No injuries were reported in connection with the fire.

Griff Lynch, the Chief Operating Officer of the Georgia Ports Authority, says no one was inside the warehouse at the time, and all port employees have been accounted for.

The fire broke out late Saturday morning at the Georgia Ports Authority's Ocean Terminal No. 3 on Savannah's west side. It began in a 2,000-square-foot warehouse containing more than 5,000 tons of rubber used in tire manufacturing.

The cause is still unknown. Keller says it may be "days" before fire officials can safely investigate.

"It's rubber product, and rubber burns for a long time," Keller says.

Keller says crews have been using water, foam, and other chemical fire retardants to control the blaze. The goal is to keep the fire contained and prevent it from spreading to another section of the warehouse.

Police closed down a section of West Bay Street Saturday, but the Talmadge Bridge across the Savannah River has remained open.

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