Ward, SC 11/15/2022 (Paul Kirby) – Fire crews from the Batesburg-Leesville Fire Department and the Lexington County Fire Service provided a major level of assistance at a large fire that occurred at Valley Proteins on Thanksgiving Day. Valley Proteins is a rendering facility that collects used grease from restaurants for recycling among other things. The facility is located near Ward, SC in Saluda County on Valpro Road.
The fire was first reported around 2:15 p.m. and firefighters from the B&L Fire Department responded at the request of Saluda County shortly after the first alarm. On arrival, their equipment was immediately pressed into use attacking the fire and hauling water to the plant that does not have fire hydrants in proximity to the facility. Given the size of the fire and the need for a large volume of water, the crews on fire attack quickly ran out of water several times as a fleet of water tanker trucks were being assembled.
Lexington County began responding with trucks and manpower not long after the B&L teams arrived on scene. Because the county fire crews were responding out of county, they also sent several battalion chiefs and an operations chief that would eventually play a crucial role in organizing the fire ground and setting up a safety team to keep firefighters from being injured.
Water continued to be an issue even as Lexington County threw a large portion of their northwest region’s tanker fleet and resources into the fight. Other tankers, fire engines, and manpower also arrived from Laurens, Abbeville, Aiken, Greenwood, and Newberry counties. One department showed up with a tanker truck that could haul 3,500 gallons and it was pressed into service as well.
It quickly became apparent that the water sources being used to fill the tanker was being overtaxed. Someone from the command team eventually spotted another hydrant in the town of Ward near the post office that offered some additional relief in providing enough water for the firefight.
After several hours, the fire was marked under control. Lexington County and B&L crews began to wrap it up and return to Lexington County well after 5:00 p.m. Some local fire crews were assigned to sit on the smoldering fire overnight.
The amount of damage to Valley’s operation may take some time to estimate. Local fire marshals are still working to identify the cause of the fire.