A two-alarm fire burnt an Abilene warehouse to the groundÂ at 401 Plum St. on Monday. Abilene firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after 5 p.m., after a passing motorist noticed smoke coming from the building and called 911.
Abilene Fire Department Lieutenant Greg Goettsch said he believed the fire began in the northwest corner of the 40,000-square-foot building. By 11 p.m., workers had collapsed standing walls and were removing rubble to extinguish remaining hot spots.
“At this point, we don’t have a dollar estimate of the losses and still no injuries reported,” Goettsch said. “I think we’ll be out here all night.”
The investigation for the cause of the fire continues.
If the warehouse was equipped with sprinklers, they were not working properly, Goettsch said. Half of the AFD’s force — about 30 firefighters, five engines and two ladder trucks — worked for hours to prevent the fire from spreading.
“Ninety percent of the time, one sprinkler head will extinguish the fire,” Goettsch said. “It’s really uncommon for this many Abilene firefighters to be on the scene.”
In addition to the sheer size of the building, Goettsch said the intense heat of the blaze exhausted firefighters quickly. Rotating teams gave fatigued firefighters opportunity to rest, and American Red Cross volunteers provided water, sports drinks and snacks. At 7:15 p.m., Goettsch said the fire was contained.
Wes Ratliff, owner of Automated Copy Systems Inc., began leasing space in the warehouse four months ago. He received a call from Paul Johnson, the property owner, at 6:45 p.m. Monday.
“I didn’t know for sure what was happening,” Ratliff said. “We weren’t even sure it was our building.”
Monday’s flames destroyed 90 copy machines. Ratliff said he moved the machines from ACU’s campus to the storage facility last week.
Read the initial report here.