Firefighters from 5 counties respond to huge Holly Hill blaze

Fire crews pour water onto the remnants of a blaze Wednesday at Don’s Car Crushing in Holly Hill. The fire blanketed the area with thick, acrid smoke.

HOLLY HILL -- Dozens of firefighters from across the Lowcountry spent Wednesday battling a massive blaze at an auto salvage yard that blanketed the area with thick, acrid smoke.

The fire at Don's Car Crushing, reported around 5 a.m., shot flames high into the sky and left a smoke plume visible for miles.

Fire crews had largely contained the blaze by late morning, but they continued to pour water on the large, smoldering site.

No injuries were reported, and state health officials said the smoke did not appear to pose a danger to the public. No evacuations were necessary.

The fire might have started in a compressor room or in a pile of debris, according to plant manager Chris Grier.

A night watchman spotted the fire and alerted fire officials, Grier said. The yard was not open at the time, and no operations were under way, he said.

Grier said he had no estimate on damages. There also was no word on a possible cause.

Jim Beasley of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said the fire burned piles of "fluff," a car-crushing by-product that contains leftover vinyl, rubber, glass and other automotive materials.

Two 50-by-100-foot pits of the material caught fire, as well as two structures on the site, he said.

Health officials monitored the air in a residential community downwind from the site, but tests revealed no harmful concentrations of noxious materials, Beasley said. DHEC also received no complaints from residents experiencing health problems as a result of the smoke, he said.

The blaze drew firefighters from Charleston, Orangeburg, Dorchester, Berkeley and Colleton counties. They set up around several large, smoking mounds of shredded cars and inundated the site with water.

Three tower trucks allowed crews to pump water down into the smoking crater as well.

There is no fire hydrant service to the site, but fire crews drew water from a nearby, acre-sized pond owned by the plant, Grier said.

The site, which employs 42 people, is one of six operated by Don's Car Crushing, Grier said. It opened in this rural location in late 2009, just down the street from a cement plant.