Fire engulfs industrial building near Knoxville's Old City

Fire engulfs industrial building near Knoxville's Old City

Posted: Updated:
The fire was first reported at 9:30 p.m. The fire was first reported at 9:30 p.m.
Crews were able to ensure no other buildings were threatened. Crews were able to ensure no other buildings were threatened.
The former building for Industrial Belting & Supply Company is located at the corner of Depot Avenue and Odgen Street. (source: Google) The former building for Industrial Belting & Supply Company is located at the corner of Depot Avenue and Odgen Street. (source: Google)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - More than 40 Knoxville firefighters spent Wednesday night and Thursday morning battling a fire at an industrial building near the Old City in Knoxville.

The former building for Industrial Belting & Supply Company is located at the corner of Depot Avenue and Odgen Street.

The fire was first reported at 9:30 p.m. A portion of the building collapsed just 30 minutes later. Knoxville Fire Department spokesman D.J. Corcoran says that indicates the fire went undetected for a long time.

No one was injured.

Embers from the fire were floating onto the rooftops of buildings in the nearby Old City. Crews were able to keep the embers from burning other buildings.

About half of the 14,000-square foot building was destroyed. It had two firewalls which helped stop much of the damage. 

The east side of the building has been declared a total loss, but the west side is relatively undamaged.

Corcoran says the results of the fire would have been much worse if the firewalls had not been in place.

"These firewalls did exactly what they were intended to do, stop the fire," he said.

The building was empty except for paper and office materials.
 
There was power to the building, but it had been unoccupied since September. That's when the building was sold to local developer David Dewhirst.
 
Firefighters say Dewhirst told them there had been problems with vagrants breaking into building, but it is not yet clear if vagrants caused the fire.

Long hours and below-freezing temperatures made the work difficult for firefighters. They had to go inside the building and dig through debris to search for hidden hot spots

Water from fire hoses caused icicles to form on power lines.

"Right now, it's about 25 degrees," Corcoran said Thursday morning. "It is below freezing, but the water continues to flow right now. Once it drops down to single digits or the teens is when you start seeing water freezing on the street."

A bus was brought in to provide heat and hot drinks for firefighters.

6 News reporters Alexis Zotos and Josh Ault contributed to this report.

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