North Charleston fire chief: Crews likely to battle warehouse fire ‘deep into night’

North Charleston firefighters battle a warehouse blaze at 1770 Hock Ave. Friday.

Four firefighters taken to the hospital for heat-related illnesses and a plume of dark smoke was seen across the Lowcountry as a fire in a North Charleston warehouse raged for hours Friday.

Officials say they don’t yet know what sparked the blaze, which engulfed part of a warehouse on Hock Avenue filled with rolls of paper around 2 p.m. But hours after fire crews arrived, the fire showed little signs of letting up.

“We expect to be here deep into the night,” said city Fire Chief Greg Bulanow.

The firefighting effort was hindered by the searing summer heat and the collapse of parts of the building’s roof and walls. Crews were attacking the flames from outside the warehouse, and the falling panels kept them from getting water into all of the building.

Meanwhile, the afternoon heat, which saw heat indexes top 100 degrees, sent four firefighters to the hospital. All four were in good condition, Bulanow said, after being sent away as a precaution.

Officials say everyone working at the Sunset Trading warehouse was safe and accounted for, and Bulanow said crews’ “defensive” efforts managed to keep the fire contained to one of the building’s three sections.

The North Charleston Fire Department was joined by crews from Charleston, Hanahan, Mount Pleasant, St. Andrews and Summerville, and at least one agent from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was involved in the investigation of what caused the fire.

“We routinely work with a variety of partners to help us determine the cause of a fire,” Bulanow said.

The fire also disrupted traffic around Hock Avenue, which is near the intersection of Meeting Street and Rivers Avenue. The warehouse is between the North Charleston Amtrak station and the Mixson development.

People in the area heard popping noises from the warehouse, initially raising concerns about what was inside. But officials said they didn’t know of any explosions, and they said people were hearing metal bands pop off the spools of paper.

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703 or on Twitter @thadmoore.