Fire consumes warehouse

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 18, 2004

LIVINGSTON – At least 10 engines and four ambulances from all across West Alabama responded to a Wednesday evening fire that gutted a paper warehouse.

Around 5 p.m., the Livingston Fire Department sent out a “mutual aid” call to anyone within the area, asking for help to control a blaze that quickly got out of hand.

Capt. Tommy Tate, a member of the Demopolis Fire Department, was one of those who responded to the call.

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According to Tate, his engine arrived in Livingston around 5:25 p.m. In all, at least 17 engines and rescue vehicles were on site to help a blaze at South West Paper.

Fire officials worked late into the night Wednesday, trying to contain a fire that seemed impossible to contain. There was no confirmed report of what caused the fire or how much in paper inventory was lost.

When Tate and his crew responded, Livingston fire fighters believed they almost had the blaze under control. But the quick containment was short-lived.

“When we got there, they said they almost had the fire knocked down,” Tate said. “But once those rolls of paper started going, there was no saving it.”

More than 50 fire fighters from across the region responded to the call. Engines from Demopolis, Livingston, Coatopa/Belmont, York, Thomaston, the Sumter County Rescue Squad and the Marengo County Rescue Squad worked to extinguish the raging flames.

In a magnificent orange glow, flames shot through metal cracks in the warehouse. As the fire continued to grow past 6 p.m., one fire fighter screamed that “We’re running out of water.”

Soon after, more tanker trucks pulled up to the warehouse on Prystup Drive in Livingston.

Exploding propane bottles and a heat that drove spectators and rescue personnel away from the building, indicated that the fire would continue well into the night.

The site was filled with cars of interested spectators — many who were standing around and taking pictures. Other citizens joined in to battle the blaze, carrying bottled water to fire fighters.

As of press time Wednesday, there was no indication of the fire’s cause. It was also unclear if anyone was injured.