The fire at a warehouse in the Georgia Port Authority's Ocean Terminal near the city's historic riverfront began about 11:30 a.m., Savannah Fire Department spokesman Mark Keller told CNN. Burning pallets holding 5,600 tons of solid rubber sent a giant plume of black smoke high above the city.
Firefighters contained the blaze to one-half of the warehouse, but Keller said they may have to let some of the fire burn out on its own.
No injuries were reported, but residents were urged to stay inside to avoid the fumes.
"If you don't have to go out, we advise to stay inside," Keller said.
"The black smoke started to look like a tornado," witness Kayvon Gerami told CNN. "And now it smells like burnt tires everywhere."