Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 25, 2013

Fire torches buildings

Witnesses say two boys ran from scene as blaze began

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

ATHENS — A fire that began in two vacant structures near West Corsicana Street and spread to a wooded area kept the Athens Fire Department busy Sunday afternoon.

The small buildings were destroyed in the flames that scorched about an acre, Assistant Chief Brandon Blue said. No one was injured in the fire.

Fire Marshal Ronnie Denton is investigating the fire, but no cause has been determined. According to unconfirmed reports from witnesses at the scene, two youths left the area just before the flames were discovered.

According to Athens Police Department dispatch reports, AFD received a call shortly after 2 p.m. concerning a fire in the 500 block of West Corsicana Street. AFD responded with two fire engines, including the Spartan Quint Fire Apparatus purchased in 2012 at a cost of $900,000. Blue said the truck, with its 103-foot ladder, was used as what the fire department calls an “elevated master screen.”

“That was our first true test of the ladder truck,” Blue said. “What happens with the elevated master screen is there’s a large nozzle on top of the ladder that we can extend over the top of a fire that we can’t reach or get to.”

Blue said the nozzle can spray close the 1,000 gallons per minute.

“That was our first time to actually test that out in a fire and it worked great,” Blue said.

With the structures engulfed, AFD first focused its attention on halting the fire’s progress in the wooded area.

“It’s pretty thick in there,” Blue said. “Some places you can’t even walk.

The Quint was on the scene for more than seven hours.

AFD was assisted by the North 19 Volunteer Fire Department. The Athens Police Department assisted with traffic control. Dozens of people watched the fire, with many of them filming and taking pictures with cell phones and gaming devices.