updated 2/14/2008 11:25:52 AM ET 2008-02-14T16:25:52

A week after a deadly sugar refinery explosion , the death toll rose to at least eight Thursday as dozens of firefighters continued to battle the blaze.

Michael Kelly Fields, 40, died early Thursday at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, spokeswoman Beth Frits said. Sixteen other workers remained hospitalized there, 14 of them in critical condition, she said.

Seven other people have been found dead in the rubble at the Imperial Sugar Co. plant in Port Wentworth, and one worker remained missing.

Sugar dust is thought to be the cause of the Feb. 7 blast. Emergency crews were able to snuff out the fire at the plant's main building Wednesday, but the blaze persisted at the refinery's 80-foot silos.

Local crews had to call in a specialized team with powerful equipment to assault the silo fires, where thick masses of molten sugar were still smoldering even after a helicopter dumped thousands of gallons of water.

Emergency workers were able to pull a seventh body out of the second-floor break room Wednesday. Authorities believe the last missing person is in a section of the same room, which is still littered with wreckage.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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