“More focused on the building than the people.” Carolina Poly Workers Say They Waited in Parking Lot For Hours During Fire

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (CN2 NEWS)  Chester’s authorities say a massive fire at Carolina Poly in Chester County is now smoldering and under control.  Crews worked through Monday night and into this Tuesday, and now clean-up efforts are underway. Monday’s fire left its mark, both physically and mentally.

Several employees reached out CN2 News, saying they were evacuated into the parking lot when the fire started early Monday morning.  However they told us they weren’t able to leave the parking lot for nearly eight hours.

“They felt very threatened because they didn’t know how close it was going to come to them,” said one man who says several of his family members work at the plant. He’s remaining anonymous to protect them, “[The] only thing they wanted to do was leave the parking area for safety measures.”

Employees we spoke to said hourly supervisors said employees would receive half of a point against them if they left the property.  The explain that the company operates on a point system. Accumulating too many could cost employees their jobs.

“They [were] told by their immediate supervisor if they left the parking areas, that they [would] be penalized by some point system that the company has.”

People described nearly 100 workers waiting in the parking lot.  One told us the company gave out pizza and water.

At 12 p.m., DHEC issued a smoke advisory which urged residents to stay away from the smoke until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ran further tests.  One concern was that the smoke could have chemical content from the burning materials, which included oils, tires and plastic.

Workers told CN2 News they weren’t released until around 2:30 p.m., nearly two hours after DHEC issued the smoke advisory.

Tuesday morning, DHEC said initial water and air quality tests came back clean.  The agency continues to advise that residents avoid any smoke coming from the site as clean up efforts continue.

CN2 News reached out to both Carolina Poly and its parent company, Poly America, for comment.  As of our deadline, we have not heard back.

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