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Thursday night fire at Diamond Pet Foods goes to second alarm as crews battle blaze in plant

Gaston, SC 12/23/2021 (Paul Kirby) – A fire that started around 11:00 p.m. Thursday night at the Diamond Pet Food production facility in Gaston, SC burned into the early morning hours of Friday, December 24th before it could be extinguished. It went to a second alarm and brought firefighters from as far away as Batesburg-Leesville to assist Lexington County’s crews before it was out. The plant, located at the intersection of at Woodtrail Drive and US Hwy 321 south, is well-known for its large storage silos that jut into the air creating the highest point, and the only real commercial skyline, in that portion of Lexington County.


Reports indicate that the fire may have been in a portion of the facility that houses large dryers as a part of their production process. On arrival, firefighters went on the attack quickly advancing hoses into the building. Their aerial trucks arrived and raised their ladders to allow crews a bird’s eye view of the fire scene and access portions of the plant that were out of reach of ground ladders. A fire commander on scene designated this a working fire and asked that a second alarm be transmitted. This brings a preset amount of additional equipment and manpower to the fire without that commander having to specify each resource.

As more crews arrived, the command structure grew. Additional officers were assigned the multitude of task that are required to manage and monitor the many firefighters on a large fire such as this. The command structure helps keep all personnel working efficiently and safely. Personnel and equipment from Lexington County EMS were on scene to assist in the rehab of firefighters and to swing into action if a firefighter or employee of Diamond were injured during this operation.


Eventually, the “Super Fan” from the Town of Batesburg-Leesville’s Fire Department was requested. This fan, pulled behind a pickup truck on a specially built trailer, is powered by a V-8 engine and has a propeller like one you might find on an airboat. That fan, owned by the Batesburg-Leesville FD, is unique and the only one of its kind in the Midlands. It moves a massive amounts of air needed for the ventilation of smoke and other combustible gasses from large structures.


It took the combined efforts of the fire service and Diamond’s maintenance crews to finally ensure that this fire was out, and everything was once again safe. Although Diamond personnel do not fight the fire themselves, once the fire service arrives on scene, they are instrumental in helping to secure the electrical services that supply the large machines used in the production processes. They are also more knowledgeable about the hazards of the dangerous machinery inside and where important control areas of the facility can be accessed.


Diamond has not addressed the cause of the fire, what if any part of their process will be down and for how long, or what it will cost to repair or replace any equipment of parts of the plant that was damaged.


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