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      Contamination threat at Front Street Fire site

      GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCIV) -- It's been nearly four weeks and construction workers are still going through rubble at the site where several businesses and apartment homes were destroyed by fire.

      But it's what's floating in the harbor that poses a threat the possibility of contamination.{}

      "In this case, the point of origin seemed to be over a deck area," said Sam Hodge, director of Georgetown County Emergency Management. "There's a lot of things stored on that deck. It could have been numerous things. When it falls into the water, it creates the issue of 'Did you get the evidence' and 'Has it been washed away?'"

      Hodge says protecting the environment has been a focal point for state officials since day one.

      "The day of the fire, that afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard put some what they call booming out to help contain anything that may have floated away," Hodge said.

      Since Sept. 25, debris has been contained in the harbor in the hopes of limiting the possibility of pollution.

      "Most of the items that are in there are construction type debris," Hodge said. "Bricks and some metal, rafters and that sort of thing. There are some refrigerator type units. There were only a couple of those. We see no evidence that anything has leaked out of them."

      Hodge says state law enforcement investigators removed a section of the brick where Limpin' Jane's once was to help find a cause of the fire. But Hodges says the answer could still float atop the harbor.{}

      "It could be early as this week or could be months. It all depends on the process they are using to determine the cause of the fire," he said.

      Hodge says it could take 18 months before the debris is cleared and the buildings can be rebuilt.{}

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