Life at Imperial Sugar Refinery, formerly Dixie Crystal, changed forever on February 7, 2008 at 7:15pm when sugar dust in the bagging area exploded, creating a fireball that lit up the night sky for hours as it spread to other areas of the plant. As the factory burned, a massive search and rescue response was initiated by local police, fire, Coast Guard, helicopters, hospitals and trauma centers.
The initial death toll of 6 gradually climbed to 13 over the following weeks, as severely burned patients transported to Augusta’s burn center succumbed to their injuries. Many more were burned or injured and had to be treated in local hospitals. The entire community was badly shaken by the incident.