Gilbert, SC – 04/06/2021 (Paul Kirby) – At approximately 4:11 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, the fire incident commander of a structure and fuel fire in the Gilbert area of Lexington County reported that they had the large fire they had been fighting under control. Earlier in the afternoon, the Lexington County Fire Service poured firefighting resources into the 300 block of Broad Street in the Gilbert area of Lexington County due to a report of a structure fire that involved a fuel truck and multiple storage tanks. It was called into the county’s 911 Communications Center at a gas and fueling station located there at approximately 3:00 p.m.
The first due firefighters from the area’s fire station arrived quickly and reported that they not only had fuel on fire, but that a truck with an estimated capacity of several thousand gallons and several storage tanks also involved. They began to set up for a long operation on a warm afternoon.
Chief officers began to go enroute from across the county and the fire service’s headquarters on Ballpark Road outside of Lexington. Almost immediately, citizens began reporting that they were seeing a column of thick black smoke in the sky from as far away as the Wal-Mart on South Lake Drive in Red Bank.
As more officers and fire equipment with manpower began to arrive on scene, the designated incident commander began requesting additional resources to supplement what was already on scene or enroute. The Town of Batesburg-Leesville already had a fire engine and manpower at the scene and they sent a second truck. An additional ladder truck was also enroute from the Irmo Fire District to assist the Lexington County teams. A large diameter fire hose was dropped from a nearby fire hydrant to establish a reliable water supply for the firefight ahead.
At 3:15 p.m., more fire equipment from across Lexington County was still enroute while teams on scene were setting up to attack the fire with a special foam meant to separate the flames from the heated and burning fuel. The commander had his communications center request additional film forming foam from Michelin Tire’s US #5 plant off Industrial Drive and the Columbia Metropolitan Airport in West Columbia. The commander also requested an additional EMS unit respond from Lexington County as a part of the Safety Operations Plan for a fire such as this. Multiple law enforcement units were either on scene or in the area isolating the fire ground from anyone that wanted to get close enough for a look.
As of 3:20 p.m., other agencies that had been requested included Dominion Energy, Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative, and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). Other fire equipment and manpower was also being redistributed across the county by a fire service officer to fill in at empty fire stations across the region so all citizens would still be protected by firefighters and first responders in the event of additional emergency calls.
A special hazardous materials unit from the Oak Grove area of Lexington County responded. The incident commander also assigned someone to monitor any fuel and water running from the site for fuel contamination.
By 3:30 p.m., county firefighters were in a defensive posture working to make sure that the burning fuel did not spread. As more resources and special equipment arrive, they began applying the foam they had marshaled to put the fire out.
After the fire was extinguished, a spokesman for Lexington County said via social media that it was believed that a spark started the fire while the truck was transferring gasoline.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Lexington County Fire Service
Map courtesy of Google. Indicates the area where the fire is burning in the 300 block of Broad Street in Gilbert, SC.