Fire breaks out at Burke County Sheriff’s Office record storage location

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BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — Burke County Emergency Management and Burke County Fire Department battled a fire at the Burke County Sheriff’s Office Sunday, October 17 and now local and state authorities are trying to figure out what started it. “I’ve never seen anything like that,” Lynn Jenkins told NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Jones about the incident.

Credit: Burke County Sheriff’s Office

Jenkins works at the hospital in Burke County. She took video after one of her co-workers alerted the staff. “We weren’t sure if we were going to have to treat inmates for smoke inhalation or anything like that so we were trying to put our disaster team in place,” she said.

No inmates were injured because the fire didn’t reach the jail. “I rode up to the sheriff’s department, just to see how involved it was and I could see it was behind the building, but I couldn’t see what was burning, there was a lot of smoke,” Jenkins added.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office said that the initial call for assistance came in at 12:09 a.m. The fire was contained in the outdoor records storage shed.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office tells us that the fire originated from a plastic smoker’s receptacle which melted, fell over and ignited a trash can. Winds were a contributing factor to the spread of the fire. Preliminary investigations show that the fire was 100% accidental and non-intentional.

We’re told the fire did not reach the permanent records buildings. What was lost, we’re told, were old docket books, card catalog files, old case files and other historical data, some of which may be stored in other locations such as the detention center, on digital format, or in the DA’s Office Records Retention Files.

Several outside agencies including EMA and state fire marshals are investigating, but right now there’s no word on what or who could’ve started the fire. Some believe it was no accident. “It kind of seems like it could be an inside job like maybe they needed to get rid of some stuff,” Waynesboro resident Nathan Smith shared.

Smith was a former correctional officer in Texas. “It didn’t catch anything else, it was just that one specific building. That’s why it seemed kind of odd to me,” he said. He also questions the response time to a building that is right across the street from EMA. “What if a fire breaks out at my house and I’m not notified or there’s a slow response time to that fire,” Smith added.

Count on NewsChannel 6 to keep you updated on this developing story.

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