Co-Lin’s supplies go up in smoke

Published 12:06 am Saturday, August 4, 2012

NATCHEZ — An overheated air compressor is believed to be the cause of a Thursday late-night fire in a metal storage building at Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Natchez campus.

Natchez Fire Chief Oliver Stewart said the state fire marshal conducted an investigation Friday, and preliminary findings show the compressor was the cause of the fire in the building, which housed lawn equipment, old computers, furniture and office supplies.

Co-Lin Vice President Teresa Busby said the school lost all the maintenance equipment and school supplies like copier paper and course catalogs for the upcoming semester.

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“We pretty much lost everything that was in it, it’s all melted and charred,” Busby said.

But Busby said the school is counting its blessings.

“I hate it because it’s a big expense that we can’t afford, but we’re fortunate that it was not one of our classroom buildings, and no one was there,” Busby said. “We’re really blessed.

“We’ll get through it, and as we can afford it, we’ll start replacing things,” Busby said.

Stewart said the state fire marshal will mail the complete findings of the fire investigation at a later date.

Natchez Fire Battalion Chief David Williams said firefighters arrived at the fire between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. and worked through the night until approximately 8 a.m. Friday morning to put out the fire and investigate the scene.

Both NFD and volunteer firefighters fought the fire, which is believed to have started in one corner of the building. Firefighters cut large holes in the sides of the building with a circular rescue saw just after 11 p.m. in an attempt to push air into the building to push heat and smoke out to get inside to move the supplies stored in the building outside.

“It’s so hot in there it’s melting the face shields on their helmets,” Captain David Freeman said Thursday night as firefighters worked to gain access to the building.

Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies were also on the scene Thursday night. Deputy Walter Mackel said the sheriff’s office received a call from someone at Jason’s Body Shop at approximately 9 p.m. saying there was a lot of smoke in the area of the college.