Flames engulf large building under construction in Savannah

February 27, 2020 GMT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Flames engulfed a large building under construction just outside Savannah’s historic riverfront Thursday as firefighters with hoses blasted the burning building and police closed down nearby streets in city’s busy downtown historic district.

Construction workers who were on the job at the Eastern Wharf development when it caught fire all escaped without injury, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said.

“Thank God there has been no one injured or killed as a result of this,” Johnson told reporters. “We know this could have been a whole lot worse.”

Crews were still battling flames at least two hours after the blaze started, and a thick column of smoke pouring from the site could be seen from miles away. Police closed streets nearby to discourage gawkers and keep routes clear for emergency vehicles.

The Savannah Fire Department said on Twitter that the blaze started on the top floor of a five story building. The Eastern Wharf is a large development under construction that includes single-family homes, apartments, a hotel and retail shops on the Savannah River east of downtown.

Officials said they did not immediately know what caused the fire.

“We will let the investigators determine that once the site has been deemed safe to assess,” Johnson said.