‘Rare’ Wednesday blazes keep fire district busy

Published 12:12 am Thursday, February 7, 2008

VIDALIA — When two blazes flared up in Concordia Parish Wednesday, local fire authorities found themselves scrambling.

“To have two fires going at the same time is very rare,” Concordia Fire District No. 2 Director Nolen Cothern said. “In the 18 years I’ve been doing this, this is only the third time for that to happen.”

The first fire, on Townsend Lane, near Ferriday, was reported at 11:11 a.m.

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The flames from the fire were huge, witnesses on the scene said, and by noon the house had been reduced to a few charred beams and a pile of tin roofing.

“When we got here, it was fully involved,” Howard Blount with the Concordia Fire District No. 2 said. “The building was completely on fire and everything in it was on fire.”

The residence was an older building, Blount said, and it was likely made of pine, which burns hot and fast.

High winds also contributed to the fast burning of the house, Cothern said.

“The wind was blowing at 15-20 miles an hour and just shoved the fire right through it,” Cothern said.

The owners of the home left the scene before the fire district could get any information, Cothern said.

Meanwhile, at approximately 11:30 a.m., another fire had broken out at T&J Small Engine on U.S. 84 between Vidalia and Ferriday.

The fire district stayed at the Townsend Lane house until they believed it wasn’t a danger anymore and left one truck on the scene to keep an eye on the fire to make sure it didn’t spread, Cothern said.

On the scene in Vidalia, Ray Moore, who worked at the nearby Advanced Auto Glass, said he helped pull some of the merchandise out of T&J once the fire was discovered.

“I helped pull some stuff out so they don’t lose everything,” Moore said. “It was already engulfed in flames by the time we got over here.”

Traffic slowed because responders closed off one lane of the highway, and thick black smoke billowed out of the business’ opened doors as firefighters sprayed water through openings in the walls.

By the time the fire was contained, much of the building’s backside was charred, and flames left scorch marks across the buildings metal exterior.

The front of the building was saved by a firewall and door, Cothern said.

The Vidalia and Ridgecrest Fire Departments responded to the initial call because the fire district was engaged with the house on Townsend Lane, Vidalia Fire Chief Jack Langston said.

“If it wouldn’t have been for Vidalia and Ridgecrest, it (T&J) would have burned to the ground,” Cothern said.

The causes of the fires have not yet been determined.