Firefighters responded to a fire in Greenville County at an old mill on Thursday around 10:40a.m. which turned out to be the former U.S. Finishing Union Bleachery Mill which is now a highly-contaminated superfund site which is on the EPA (Environmental Protection Agencies) list of Top Priority Sites to clean up due to the severity of the contamination.
Dispatchers with the Parker Fire Department said crews were called to Old Buncombe Road near West Blue Ridge Drive. The Park Fire chief said a vacant building is fully engulfed in flames. The chief does not believe anyone was inside the building. Roads in the area may be closed while crews battle the fire. The main roads to be effected are highway 253 and Old Buncombe Road right in the vicinity of the Mill.
Witnesses reported seeing a large plume of smoke coming from the former Union Bleachery U.S. Finishing plant that could be seen from miles away even as far as the Interstate 385 and Interstate 85 Interchange which is miles outside of the city limits of Greenville. Parker District Fire Department Chief Steve Alverson said witnesses reported hearing multiple explosions; however, the cause of the fire and the explosions remain unclear at this time.
The building caught fire in November 2003 and burned out of control for hours during which half of the structure was destroyed which triggered the EPA to tear down that half of the building due to Asbestos contamination concerns and bury the building on site. Now the remaining structure is continuing to burn as of the time of this article being written at 4:45pm; therefore, it is possible that this fire could burn the remainder of the building or make the building so unstable that the EPA will have to take the building down due to the exposure of the Asbestos contained in the Mill which would be a direct health risk to the nearby residential community.
Check out our photos and videos below from the ground to the sky via helicopter: