July 24, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WXTX) - Jimmy Johnson, an employee at Cabinet Supply Incorporated, was just spraying paint thinner and scraping walls, when a small spark changed everything.
"Something started burning in the walls, so I grabbed the fire extinguisher, tried to put it out, but it just got worse and worse. Finally, I yelled to everybody to get out, so they all took off," said Johnson.
When fire crews first arrived on the scene, they actually had to move their trucks back from the building, afraid of another explosion because of the paint chemicals in the building.
"We had heavy smoke and flames showing, and due to chemicals, the Battalion Chief chose not to send anybody in," said Columbus Fire Marshall Thomas Streeter.
As firefighters rushed to save the building from the outside using ladder trucks, employees tried to salvage everything they could on the inside...a filing cabinet and a lamp were the few things able to be carried out before the flames took over.
"We left everything behind, keys and wallets, and just got out because there was no time to do anything," said Johnson.
The flames came very close to surrounding homes...many neighbors were worried the fire would spread.
"I started knocking on doors, and telling people, 'There's a fire back there!' We don't know what's going to happen, the trees could fall on the roof, catch fire, so I said, 'Lets' get out of here,'" said Corine Jackson, who lives behind the cabinet shop.
Except for burned plants and gardens and melted plastic on storage sheds, everybody came out relatively unharmed.
No employees, firefighters or homeowners were hurt...amazing considering how big the flames were.