Firefighters worked through the night Monday to control a blaze in Columbus County. The fire started at the Ithaca Plant in Chadbourn and forced several neighbors from their homes. As of Tuesday evening, firefighters still have a job on their hands. Neighbors of the plant say the raging fire and lights from emergency vehicles reminded them of Christmas lights late Monday night, but black clouds quickly removed any festive thoughts, the result of thousands of burning tires. “At first it was kind of scary because the flames were big and the smoke was thick, and there were so many police men and fire trucks from everywhere out here,” said Shelby Gibson who lives near the plant. The fire started around 11:30 Monday night at the Carolina Tire sales building. Black smoke filled the sky while on lookers felt the flames. “Intense heat for everybody, very intense heat,” said witness Minnie Horne. Columbus, Brunswick, and Horry county fire departments were called in to help in the fight. As the flames raged 15 to 20 feet above the building, tanker after tanker brought in water to feed the hoses. Columbus County issued a voluntary evacuation for near by residents, but most stayed to watch. By noon on Tuesday, fire fighters had most of the blaze at the 60,000 square foot building under control. Despite the effort, officials say the fire won't be completely extinguished for at least one more day. The SBI and ATF are investigating the cause of the fire, and the EPA was on the scene to monitor the air quality because of all the burning rubber. The fire caused a two-hour delay for school openings in Chadbourn Tuesday.
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