Tonight....Southern Perfection Fabrications in Byron...is wrapping up a day of business...despite a fire and 15 explosions that sent around a hundred first responders to Georgia Highway 49... PLUS...
< I hope they get the place up and running soon, and that things work out for y'all>
A community sends out support...to employees affected by another plant fire just the day before...
I'm Frank Malloy.
Leah Johnson will be joining us from the Relay for Life in just a few minutes.
<Dan Varga, PIO Byron Fire department : Well myself and a couple of other firefighters were working and getting ready for a test that we have coming up when we noticed a plume of great smoke coming from the distance>
It.came from Southern Perfection Fabrication Thursday night.
That's when the training stopped and they went work...putting out the fire at the sheet metal plant
Byron Fire Department's Dan Varga says he was one of the first firefighters on the scene..and they tackled this spot
The fire may be gone...but the damage remains.
From the charred cylinders that held red paint...that exploded during the fire...
To the office desks covered with material...that used to be in the ceiling...
And even the light fixtures that are charred and dangling.
Any could provide clues of what started the blaze.
<Dan Varga, PIO Byron Fire department : Where we looked at you could see how hot it was in those areas as it starts to move along and go through the attic you can tell where the main fire was and how it shifted into the office areas. >
<Chief J.D. Mosby: Well we go through, we go through the scene and we look at the char patterns and burn patterns and determine where the origin was and we look at all the sources of ignition within that area. >
Which is why Byron Fire Department spent the day preserving the scene so they and state fire marshals can investigate.
But the day after the fire...they also focus on what might spark another blaze.
<Chief J.D. Mosby: We still have a few spots that are smouldering from last night some pile of ash and what not taking care of those we come across them.>
While the building at Southern Perfection Fabrication sustained heavy damage...Chief Mosby says they were able to salvage many items inside.
Austin Lewis 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
While putting out the flames... two firefighters were sent to Peach County hospital for minor injuries....they were treated and released... another firefighter was treated on the scene.
As we mentioned a moment ago...the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.. or OSHA.. cited Southern Perfection last year for 15 serious health and safety violations.
The violations included "exposing workers to combustible residues and flammable liquids... without adequate precautions to prevent fires and explosions."
OSHA fined the company 54 thousand dollars, but that was later reduced to about 16 thousand as part of an informal settlement.
Last year, Gordon Hale, the owner and operator of Southern Perfection, told 13WMAZ the company addressed the violations before the fines were even announced.
He said the company was expanding and that he had recently hired a safety coordinator.
Hale also said the complaint that led to the OSHA inspection was filed by an employee he fired for stealing.
We made multiple phone calls today to try to speak to Hale. We could not reach him for comment.
The Southern Perfections fire last night happened while crews in South Bibb County were still dousing smoldering paper and waste at another business.
And today at the Pactiv egg carton plant...the cleanup is still going on.
But as Tom George found, the effects reach beyond the factory grounds.
He talked to owners and staff at one nearby business that relies on Pactiv for customers.
With the flames gone, crews still working Friday morning to clean up after Wednesday's fire at Pactiv
< But the fire affected more than just Pactiv .. Right across the street, a popular lunch spot popular with employees .. Now almost empty. >
< Right now we would be packed .. You'd be fighting for a parking spot.. There'd be 15, 20 Pactiv people at any given time here for lunch... >
At Friends Bar and Grill .. The absence of Pactiv employees has hurt their business too.
< It's slowed it down drastically .. Even a few of them come over at night and get to go food to take back to em. We're one of the only places to eat out here and they love our cookin' and we treat em like family..>
And in some cases, it is their family ... For server Vicki James, it's personal ... Her daughter was just shy of the 90 days needed to transition from temp work to becoming a full time employee at Pactiv ... While she's hoping they'll keep her, it's still up in the air.
< She's very devastated. She's very scared she's going to lose her job. She loves it out there. But from what I gather, I'm hoping they're gonna keep her. I don't know, I mean it's just a bad situation for everybody.>
And the crew at Friends, they have a message for their friends at Pactiv.
< I just wish em the best. I hope things get back to some kind of normalcy soon for em cause theyre missed. Theyre missed a lot.>
< MY prayers are with y'all, I hope they get the place up and running soon, and that things work out for y'all, and I miss you and I want you back up here.>
In Macon, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
Pactiv currently employs 240 full time staff and 50 temp workers... Pactiv has said the permanent employees will continue to be paid....for now.
The state labor department of Labor told us yesterday some of the temporary workers filed for group unemployment
Many are bringing those light jackets...for an event that will light up the night for the estimated 234-thousand men and women who'll be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
Each year, the American Cancer Society raises money and awareness through the Relay For Life.
Leah Johnson is live in South Macon.. where walkers are gearing up for a long night...
A Georgia congressman visited Macon today...in part to spread news about his announcement... that he will be joining the race for Saxby Chambliss' senate seat.
But he took aim at another topic too.
On April 17th of this year...the U.S. Senate denied a proposed expansion of background checks on gun purchases.
Kingston offered his opinion... on the gun control debate.
<the concern we've had about the senate gun control legislation is that it seems far more designed to register guns and confiscate guns, rather than stop the tragedies that we've had at Sandy Hook. What I think it missing from this debate is mental health. Because the people that go in and shoot unarm
ed citizens, usually have a mental problem, and it's not a fault of the gun.>
For more information about Kingston's statements on sequestration, the savannah river port project, and immigration, check out his extended interview on 13wmaz.com
If you sell a gun in Warner Robins... the law says you need to report that to the police chief.
While you're at it.. Tell him your name.. Race and age, too.
The ordinance has been on the books since 1957... But as it turns out... the police chief didn't even know that until last month.
Lorra Lynch Jones explains how the obscure law came to light... And why a couple hundred people want it removed.
Sales rep at EZ Pawn in Warner Robins... Jesse White... Says he knows the law when it comes to buying and selling guns.
<oh,yes. We go through ATF forums. They come in and teach classes to us. So, we know every law were supposed to know to sell a firearm.>
But we stumped him when it came to this one.. A section labled "firearms dealers" in the city code.
<lorra: You ever seen that?
Jesse: I have not.
Lorra: Are you required to follow that to your knowlegde?
Jesse: Not that I know of. Ive never been addressed to fill out paper work and send it to our local law enforcement agency- every single time I sell a weapon.>
Former Houston District Attorney Kelly Burke considers it a good thing it's not enforced.
He's the gun enthusiast who found it on the city books.
<when I contacted the city, said hey, you have this and it bothers me, there wasn't much reaction. Other than, we don't follow it.>
Burke wrote about the law on the facebook page he crafted... Houston County Carries Concealed.
He asked for e-signatures supporting his effort to repeal the city law.
219 people signed on in 24 hours.
<the problem is it's none of the police chiefs business, none of the city of warner robins business, who owns a gun in the city of warner robins. It's just none of their business.>
Burke asked the mayor to strike it from the books.
A discussion of the ordinance is now on Monday's council agenda.
In Warner Robins Lorra Lynch Jones 13wmaz Eyewitness News.>
Burke also says the city law conflicts with state law... That says city's and county's can't keep a database of gun owners.
Mayor Chuck Shaheen says since the law isn't enforced.. He doesn't see any reason it shouldn't be repealed.
Removing it requires a vote from city council.