Savannah city officials say no injuries reported in East Wharf Project fire

ByWTOC Staff|February 27, 2020 at 12:46 PM EST - Updated February 27 at 5:17 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Emergency crews responded to a massive fire at the Eastern Wharf Project construction site in downtown Savannah on Thursday.

Drone video from the Eastern Wharf Project site fire

The Savannah Fire Department said the fire is believed to have started on the 5th floor. Construction workers first noticed smoke in the building and alerted 911.

According to officials with the City of Savannah, no injuries have been reported from the fire.

“Right now all we’re doing is providing EMS support for all the firefighters that are here on scene,” said Chatham County EMS Chief Bengi Cowart. “We arrived shortly after Savannah Fire to provide that.”

The Truman Parkway and President Street are open. General McIntosh Boulevard is closed, as well as East Bay Street between East Broad Street and General McIntosh.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson was quick to praise the hard work by first responders when he addressed the media. Highlighting their response to the scene and bravery in the face of massive flames.

City of Savannah officials hold news conference on Eastern Wharf Project fire

At a time when the Mayor could have focused on the very obvious negatives of the loss of this development he remained positive, instead applauding our local first responders and the construction workers who initially called 911.

The Mayor however also issued a warning to anyone who is considering trying to get a closer look at the building even after it seems like the danger is gone.

“My message would be don’t be dumb. Don’t do foolish things. The fact of the matter is, while we were watching, some portions of it fell down. It’s still an active site. It will be an active investigative site for a while,” he said.

The mayor adding that they will have police patrolling the scene to help dissuade people from getting too close to the charred structure.

The Savannah City Council was set to meet at 4 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. They’re sharing their reaction to the massive fire.

“You look at that and you critique it and we look at it from two different aspects," said District 6 Alderman Kurtis Purtee. "You look at it from a reactive stage, what did we do, what could we do better. And then a proactive, what could we do to prevent something like this, what measures can we take to make sure that if it does happen, our response times are better, our resources are better outlined out there. So yeah, we’re going to take something like this and critique it and look at it.”

“You saw a rapid response from multiple different units, our police department, of course our fire department and even Marine 1, our fire boat, was able to respond as well. So that’s still proving active service, and I’m just so proud of our first responders,” said District 4 Alderman Nick Palumbo.

After talking with some construction crew members it seems as though most of them were at lunch when it happened. A Staffzone Sales Manager and her nine crew members were reunited and tears were shed when everyone was accounted for.

“No words can describe what I just felt," said Carmon Kirk. "Just seeing all of them. Everyone’s fine. They’re walking, talking, hugged them. It was an amazing feeling.”

According to a Marriott Savannah Riverfront employee, that hotel is not being evacuated. The employee states that the smoke is blowing away from that hotel.

Patrick Malloy Communities, developer of Eastern Wharf’s Upper East River residences, adjacent to the project site where the fire broke out released the following statement:

“Officials at Upper East River have been in touch with all current Upper East River residents, sales team members, and development and construction teams and they can report all are safe. Furthermore, there has been no damage to any Upper East River property or homes at this time. We are grateful for the Savannah area Fire and Rescue Departments, firefighters, and public safety officers for their current efforts. We know this is still an active investigative fire scene and are hopeful there will not be any further damage to the area.”

Details are very limited at this time. Please stay with WTOC for updates.

Photo: WTOC

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content