But first, a two-story brick wall at the scene will have to be carefully torn down. The hazard posed by that wall is forcing officials to keep a section of Noble Street closed to traffic today, an AFD captain said Saturday night.
Used by the local ServiceMaster business, the building at 2 West Third Street was said by the business owner to be more than 100 years old. The entire department was summoned to the scene to battle the flames consuming its ancient timbers.
No one was injured in the process, said Anniston Fire Chief Tony Taylor, but there were “tense moments” when a small explosion went off.
ServiceMaster business owner Scott Mims said an employee called to tell him of the fire, which was reported to AFD at 2:54 p.m. Mims said no one would have been working in the building Saturday.
“We’re OK. It’s the 21st century, so everything’s backed up,” Mims said. “It hurts our staff. They won’t be able to come into the office on Monday, but we’ll be back to business. This is what we do.”
Because firefighters had access back behind the building, they were able to keep the flames away from newer metal buildings owned by the business, Taylor said. He said the success in keeping the blaze away from other nearby buildings was owed to firefighters’ ability to get around the fire and “push the fire back onto itself.”
Taylor said the burned structure, which he estimated as a total loss, had a one-story portion and a two-story portion. By the time the bulk of the fire was out, it was “nothing but brick.” He said fire units were staying on the scene all night as a precaution.
It’s a two-story brick masonry wall that poses the most risk, said Anniston Fire Capt. Chris Collins. Further investigation of the fire won’t be safe until the wall is brought down, he said. In addition, the proximity of the wall to Noble Street poses its own risk.
“We’re not going to open Noble Street up until we can get that wall torn down,” Collins said late Saturday night.
Collins said Noble Street is blocked from Fourth Street southward to or near “hotshot curve” so that northbound traffic doesn’t suddenly come upon the scene. Fourth Street itself is also blocked at Noble.
Four pumper trucks and one aerial-ladder truck responded to the blaze. Taylor thanked the Oxford and Jacksonville fire departments for offering backup while Anniston’s department was involved downtown.