Fire destroys Garrard warehouse

July 28, 2004|JULIE McGLOTHLIN

Late Tuesday morning a fire broke out in a warehouse on East Buford Street in Lancaster.

A little before 11 a.m., employees at Barrett Carpet Outlet noticed smoke coming from the Teater Brothers' feed storage facility and alerted local authorities.

"I saw the smoke, and I thought it was someone burning trash," said Louise Barrett of Barrett Carpet Outlet. "I didn't give it any mind."

It wasn't until employee Brandon Houp pointed out the vehemence of the smoke that Barrett realized what was happening.

When Ken Adams, chief of the Lancaster Fire Department, arrived on the scene a few minutes later, the building "was just covered with smoke. Then, within three minutes, flames started coming out the ends. ... There was plenty of fire."


Lancaster Fire Department and Garrard District 1 firefighters reported to the scene as well as Lancaster Police Department, Garrard County Emergency Medical Service and the Garrard County Sheriff's Department.

Using a pumper and an aerial truck, it took 20 firefighters 10 to 15 minutes to get the fire under control. Although the Teater Brothers' nearby feed mill was in danger, as were other neighboring buildings, firefighters prevented the fire from spreading.

However, the warehouse was completely destroyed. "With a metal ... building like this, the metal holds the heat inside," said Adams. "You can't do anything about it."

Firefighters worked most of the afternoon to completely extinguish the fire. The building's tin siding had collapsed on top of the animal feed stored inside, making it difficult to put out the smoldering embers. As the flames were doused, firefighters started tearing down the remaining structure with fire hooks, trying to get it pulled apart enough to dissipate the heat.

For William Teater, owner of the warehouse, the fire was difficult to comprehend.

"Yeah, it's wow," he said, gazing at the ruins.

What remained of the tin siding was mottled, tie-dyed yellow and palest orange by the fire, as the water streaming from the fire hoses struck it with a rat-a-tat-tat. The feed was also destroyed, lingering only as the pungent aroma of silage mixing with the acrid smoke.

Teater estimated the fire constitutes a $30,000 loss, and insurance only covers the building, not the value of the feed. "We've been hauling feed and putting it in there all summer," he said.

This was not Teater's first run-in with the greedy flames. Some 20 years ago, he had a large barn full of tobacco on Danville Road burn down.

"Not much you can do, is there? Rebuild and go again. That's all you can do," he said resolutely.

While Tuesday's fire was devastating to Teater, it had the potential to be even more destructive.

"That feed mill over there, if it caught on fire, there's no way they'd be able to put it out," said Jessie Preston Sr., who lives across the street from the warehouse. His son, Jessie Preston Jr., added, "If the wind was blowing this way, it would have gotten our house. It's pretty scary."

Although it is too early to know the cause of the fire, it remains under investigation.

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