Fire Investigators Have a Cause for Downtown Blaze

The final word is in from fire investigators.

"It was purely an accident. They were working on a vehicle and removing a gas tank. The gas spilled on the floor and they dropped a light onto it," said Asst. Chief Leonard Jadrich.

And as flames and black smoke bellowed from Cavenaugh Lincoln-Mercury Wednesday morning, employees saw just how quickly things can go wrong in a split second.

"When the fire extinguisher ran out, it was time to go. We couldn't do anything else. We used seven or eight on it and couldn't put it out," said an employee.

Moments after the smoke began rising from the building calls started pouring in to Jonesboro's 911 Center.

The first hit at 10:42 a.m.

"Operator: 911, What's your emergency? Caller: There's a fire at the Lincoln-Mercury. Operator: What's the address? Caller: It's Cavenaugh Used Cars. Operator: Oh okay, on Huntingdon? Caller: Yes ma'am, and they will be able to see it. There is lots of black smoke rolling up into the sky. Operator: It is a building that's on fire or is it tires. Caller: It's the building on fire. Operator: Are you an employee there ma'am? Caller: No ma'am, I'm across the street looking at it."

Just a minute later the next call came in from the dealership. In this call you can hear the first emergency responders arriving on the scene.

"Operator: Fire and 911. Caller: Hey, we need a fire department sent over to Cavenaugh Lincoln-Mercury. Operator: We've got them in route. Are you an employee there ma'am? Caller: Yes ma'am, I am. We just didn't know that nobody had called. Nobody knew anything. Operator: Okay, have you got everybody out of the building? Caller: Yeah, we ran through there and we think everybody is out. Operator: You think everyone is out? Caller: Yes ma'am. Oh here's an ambulance here now. Operator: Okay hun. Caller: Woah, thank you ma'am."

It took firefighters several hours to get the blaze under control because of the amount of flammables in the building.

"Because of all the oils and gas and things that were on the scene, the fire got real big, real quick. That's what made it hard. The fire was moving at a rapid pace," said Jadrich.

But as firefighters douse a few remaining hot spots on friday, they are now turning their attention to safety.

"We are just cleaning up and making sure we find all of our tools that we may have left. We are trying to secure the premises around the perimeter here. We don't want anybody going into the buildings. It's not safe," said Jadrich.

As far as the business is concerned, several employees removed what they could from the office Friday morning.

We are told anyone with service questions should direct their calls to Cavenaugh Ford dealership in Black Rock.  The number is 1-800-844-7283.

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