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FLORENCE, S.C.---Firefighters have extinguished the fire at the Old Dupont building in Florence and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the suspicious fire.

Windy Hill Chief John DeLung said the fire broke out shortly after 10 pm on Sunday evening.  When crews first arrived to the scene, he said flames were so big they were coming through the roof; within 20 minutes of arriving to the scene, the front wall of the building collapsed.

After two hours, 11 fire departments and 65 firefighters from Florence county, the City of Darlington, and Darlington County had the fire contained to one area of the building; however it was still not under control.

According to Florence County Fire Coordinator, Sam Brockington, crews were able to stabilize the situation and ended the operation as of Tuesday afternoon.

The fire burned for over 36 hours, and the Windy Hill Fire Department continues to monitor the plant in case small sections continue to smolder, but the danger to the public is over.

DHEC officials said Monday morning that they had crews out at the scene, monitoring the air quality due to the nature and magnitude of the fire.

"The fire continues to emit white smoke. We've worked with the (fire department) to build a containment dam for runoff water, but it's believed that some may have escaped to the Great Pee Dee River. DHEC's regional staff have developed a water sampling plan in response," said Jim Beasley, of DHEC.

"At approximately 9 this morning, we dispatched another team from Columbia to provide additional air monitoring equipment to the area of Francis Marion University. So far, our air monitoring efforts have detected no hazardous levels. But the plume has been quite large at times, and we want to ensure that it does not pose any danger to the nearby communities," he continued.

According to Eric Spirtas, owner of the building, the building was vacant and had no electricity running through it, but Chief Delung said there were recycled plastic chips inside.  Delung said that because plastic is difficult to extinguish, and the roof was beginning to fall in, they wanted to wait until daylight to see if the walls and floors were in good condition.

Brockington said that because a large amount of plastic was burning for a long amount of time, officials want to make sure the smoke does not settle into a neighborhood; he said if it does, it could be harmful to its residents.  DHEC continues to have air quality monitors to test the air in the vicinity.

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