Cambridge fire forces evacuation

April 20, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A warehouse fire that quickly spread to several other buildings - some containing chemicals - forced the evacuation of hundreds of Cambridge residents last night, said Wayne Robinson, director of emergency management for Dorchester County.

The evacuation of a half-mile area surrounding the blaze began shortly after firefighters arrived on the scene at 6:30 p.m. Firefighters reported that barrels with flammable liquids exploded throughout the night, said Bruce McWilliams, spokesman for the county. The fire could be seen from 20 miles away, he said.

As many as 300 people were ordered from their homes, Robinson said. They were allowed to return after midnight, McWilliams said.

The area where the fire raged was previously owned by Phillips Packing Co., a cannery.

About 400 firefighters from 38 companies battled the blaze, which was under control by 11:30 p.m. Five buildings were destroyed.

No injuries were reported last night. One mile of U.S. 50 in both directions was closed for about six hours, and hundreds of Cambridge residents were without power, McWilliams said.

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