AIKEN Police believe arson is behind an early morning fire Wednesday at a Graniteville paper products warehouse.
The fire at Genco Distributions Systems a subcontractor of Kimberly-Clark at the 1000 block of Global Avenue set off an alarm about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Graniteville firefighters responded and found a 40 foot by 40 foot area of Kleenex, toilet tissue and diapers on fire, said Graniteville Fire Chief Phil Napier.
He said the fire didnt seem accidental, prompting firefighters to turn the case over to police. Chief Napier said it took firefighters a couple of hours to bring the fire under control, and hot spots werent fully extinguished until 5 a.m. Besides two holes punched in the roof to vent smoke, though, he said there was no structural damage to the plant.
The chief said about 50 workers were evacuated at the time, but there were no injuries. Chief Napier said a plant official told him that considering the amount of products ruined by fire and water from sprinkler systems as well as lost production time and the two holes in the roof, the damage could reach as high as $1 million. A worker who answered the phone at the plant Wednesday said no one could comment on the fire.
Aiken County sheriffs Sgt. Dave Myers said his office is conducting the criminal investigation and as of Wednesday afternoon a suspect had not yet been named.
Anyone with information is asked to call Aiken County sheriffs Investigator James Criscillis at (800) 922-9709 or Crime Stoppers of the Midlands at (888) 599-TIPS.