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Midway Fire: Insulation turns warehouse fire into marathon

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

It took firefighters about 90 minutes Monday to bring a fire at a Pawleys Island warehouse under control. But they stayed at the scene for another 10 hours as pieces of insulation stored in the facility continued to ignite, according to Midway Fire and Rescue.

The fire caused an estimated $825,000 damage to Cohen’s Drywall and Insulation on Tiller Drive, Fire Chief Doug Eggiman said. The warehouse once housed the Pawleys Island Rope Hammock manufacturing facility.

The fire was reported just after 9 a.m. by a passerby, Eggiman said. Flames rose through the roof of the metal warehouse and plumes of black smoke rolled into the chill morning air.

Bales of insulation were stacked in the warehouse. Sparks settled in the material, but the water didn’t penetrate, Eggiman said.

“We had the fire under control quickly,” he said.

There were 33 Midway personnel at the fire. Crews from Murrells Inlet-Garden City, Georgetown County, Georgetown City and Horry County provided assistance and backup. The length of the operation led Midway to call in off-duty crews.

Midway also got help from the county Department of Public Works. A backhoe was brought in to tear down the wall of the building and pull out the bundles of insulation. As the material was spread out it would burst into flames. “That’s why we were on the scene so long,” Eggiman said. “If we didn’t have Public Works we would still be there now.”

With over 10,000 square feet, there aren’t many similar structures in the Midway district. “You have to be particularly careful in those warehouse buildings with the steel trusses,” Eggiman said. “Those are potentially very dangerous.”

There were no injuries in Monday’s fire. The cause is still under investigation. Eggiman said Tuesday, nothing had been found to lead investigators to label the fire suspicious.

The fire did stir up memories among some of the old-timers at Midway. The site was the scene of a fire in the late 1970s that destroyed the original hammock manufacturing plant.

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