Valley Breeze In employee Mike Martin was closing up the liquor store at 3 a.m. Sunday when he glanced outside and saw the reflection of flames on the building next door. His first instinct was that the neighboring building was on fire, but as he hurried outside the market he saw what was burning — a pile of empty cardboard boxes and pallets behind Breeze In.
“I grabbed the first fire extinguisher and that didn’t really do much,” Martin said of his efforts to put out the fire. He grabbed a second, larger extinguisher and put out the rest of the flames. By the time Capital City Fire and Rescue got there, he said, the pile of boxes and the adjacent wall was smoking and smoldering but his efforts and the rain had done away with the immediate danger.
“That’s about the craziest thing I’ve ever dealt with,” Martin said.
The fire department had to rip out parts of the roofing on the back of Breeze In to make sure insulation hadn’t caught on fire, Martin said. Firefighters also checked the rest of the building, a CCFR release stated. The insulation and other parts of the building were fine; the wall caught the brunt of the fire damage, estimated at about $5,000, according to the release.
Breeze In purchasing manager Kelley Brownlow said there are rumors the fire was started intentionally, but it could have been sparked by a wayward cigarette butt. She said there might be security footage available to aid the investigation. The the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the release stated.
• Reporter Katie Moritz can be reached at 907-523-2294 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.