Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress
An early morning fire completely destroyed one building in downtown Jacksonville, damaged neighboring structures and killed one cat.
No residents or firefighters were harmed by the blaze, which broke out around 12:15 a.m. at 215 Main St., in the building that housed catering company Yum-Yums, between Dennie's Hair Design and Snaps Photography.
Jacksonville Fire Department Chief Paul White said he does not yet know the cause of the blaze and Fire Marshal Dennis Tate isn't sure they'll ever be able to determine the cause of the fire that fully engulfed the building within minutes.
Because the remains of the gutted building has no structural stability, firefighters and investigators can't get into the smoldering rubble to investigate.
A resident who lived in an apartment upstairs from Yum-Yums reported hearing a "boom," Chief White said, then the building "flashed" and was engulfed in flames. When firefighters first responded to the call, which was only a block away from the Jacksonville Fire Department, they saw a lot of smoke in the back of the building where local business "The Love's Nest" was located. Firefighters were able to wake the residents of the apartment there and get them out safely. Their cat perished from smoke inhalation.
"It was a roaring fire when we got here," Chief White said.
All off-duty and volunteer firefighters were called into combat the blaze. Firefighters from Gallatin, North Cherokee County, Earle's Chapel, Rusk, Bullard and Tyler came to assist Jacksonville Fire Department and Bullard, Rusk and Tyler sent additional ladder trucks.
"We couldn't have put it out without ladder trucks," said White, who described flames shooting into the night sky from the top of the building.
At 7 a.m. Sunday morning, there was still smoke rising from the destruction.
"We'll just keep wetting it down and we'll hit it with some Class A foam," Chief White said.
Class A foam will cool the fire and to coat the fuel, preventing its contact with oxygen.
"Right now, the building is very dangerous," Chief White said. "It shouldn't just fall, but there's nothing holding the brick up. Firefighters said when they hit the walls with the hose, the walls just shook. It's going to have to come down."
It took approximately three hours to put out the fire, Chief White said.
Fire Marshal Tate shook his head.
"I don't know how we'll be able to determine anything," he said, looking into the complete wreckage of the building.