WARD, S.C. — Crews were on the scene throughout the night following a Thanksgiving day fire that caused significant damage at a Saluda County rendering plant.
According to Josh Morton with Saluda County Emergency Management, the fire was called in around 2:15 p.m. as a structure fire at Valley Proteins - which is located on Valpro Road in the Ward community.
Morton said plant officials said the fire started in a cooking unit at the plant but spread to much of the rest of the plant afterward. According to Morton, it took dozens of firefighters from Saluda County and nearby agencies several hours to contain the fire.
And while the fire was considered under control by the 5 p.m. hour, Morton said it was still burning even late into the evening, with crews expected to remain there through the night.
Fire marshals are on the scene to begin the process of figuring out what caused the fire but have been limited in their investigation by structural safety issues in the damaged portions of the plant. Investigators are currently utilizing drones to look deeper into the plant for those answers.
Since the fire began, several other fire crews from other neighboring counties including Laurens, Abbeville, Greenwood, and Newberry have arrived to assist.
And while officials aren't yet ready to give more specific estimates regarding the damage to the plant, which predominantly renders meat by-products for pet food, Morton said that it is substantial and added that the plant won't likely be able to reopen quickly.