Thursday, April 13, 2006
Fire strikes Acme Brick
By BARRY BURLESON
Thirty-three firemen battled a blaze for almost five hours at Acme Brick in Holly Springs Sunday morning.
Chief Kenny Holbrook said the main office building located at 700 Highway 7 North was a total loss.
“They will have to tear down and start over,” he said.
Holbrook said when the first pumper arrived on the scene at 6:49 a.m., fire was already coming out of the roof.
“It had likely been burning for a while,” he said. “When we went inside all the fire seemed to be confined to attic space. We never saw any fire down low.”
He said the structure had been remodeled over the years with different layers of roofing. That, combined with the flooring for attic space, made the area difficult to access.
“It was harder to put it out due to the construction features,” Holbrook said.
Firemen first went on what Holbrook called the “offensive attack” from inside the building, first trying hard to save it.
“Fire was all over the attic, and as we opened holes we found more fire,” he said. “We tried to push through, but we couldn’t get enough holes to overcome the spread of the fire. There was a lot of good effort, but it became unsafe.
“When you’re making no headway, you need to get out from under because it will be coming down soon.”
Not long after leaving the inside, an air conditioner unit fell through the roof.
Some of Acme Brick’s equipment was salvaged before the roof fell in, he said.
“The damage to the stuff below was not so much fire as it was water,” Holbrook said. “Again, all the fire was in the attic.”
Holbrook said firefighters did all they could do before switching to the “defensive mode.”
“We switched to the snorkel attack from above because we knew the building was no longer salvageable.”
The efforts included three pumper trucks and the snorkel truck.
“There’s no telling how many thousand gallons of water we used,” he said. “The snorkel truck itself was running for two solid hours, and it pumps a thousands gallons a minute.”
There were 23 personnel from the Holly Springs department and 10 firemen from county departments, including Cayce, Waterford, Mt. Pleasant and Potts Camp. Byhalia also furnished a pumper that was on standby at the Holly Springs Fire Department in case another fire call came in.
“We appreciate everyone’s help,” he said.
He said all the extra help was crucial because firemen can only work so long before needing a break.
“A lot of our firemen worked the first hour without a break,” Holbrook said. “That’s the reason we called county personnel in. We needed more people.
“With 50 pounds of extra gear on when you go into a building, and you keep up the pace for an hour, it’s time to take a break.”
Firefighters left the scene at 11:30 a.m. and once back at the department finished refilling trucks and air bottles at approximately 1 p.m.
The cause of the fire is still undetermined. He said there were no signs of forced entry.
“We had to break into the building ourselves,” he said.
Jay Isenhour Jr., plant manager at Acme Brick, said the company will continue to cooperate with the proper authorities throughout the process.
“We apologize for the inconvenience that may occur to our employees and customers,” Isenhour said.
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