A two-alarm fire burnt an Abilene warehouse to the ground Monday at 401 Plum St. Abilene firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after 5 p.m., after a passing motorist noticed smoke coming from the building and called 911.
AFD Lieutenant Greg Goettsch said he believed, based on the latest information, the fire began in the northwest corner of the building. Investigation for the cause continues.
If the warehouse was equipped with sprinklers, Goettsch said they were not working properly. 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 exhausts firefighters quickly. Rotating teams helped fatigued firefighters rest, in addition American Red Cross volunteers, who provided water, sports drinks and snacks. At 7:15 p.m., Goettsch felt confident the fire was contained.
Wes Ratliff, owner of Automated Copy Systems, Inc., began leasing space in the warehouse 4 months ago. He received a call from Paul Johnson, the property owner, at 6:45 p.m. Monday evening.
“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 Abilene Christian University’s campus to the storage facility last week.
By 8:30 p.m., firefighters had not extinguished the fire.