News for Calhoun and Liberty County, FL
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Early a.m. fire destroys Altha Auto Parts store

by Teresa Eubanks, Journal Editor

A massive blaze tore through the Altha Auto Parts building on SR 71 early Friday morning, destroying the two-year-old building and most of its contents.

A passing motorist reported seeing smoke coming from the store around 12:53 a.m. Oct. 27.

When Altha Fire Chief Scott Waldorff arrived, “Fire was coming out of the exhaust vent on the south side of the building,” he said. “It was pretty hot and it spread quickly.”

The heat shattered the glass that was across the front of the building.

A store employee was called to the scene to outline how the inventory was arranged and where the chemicals were kept.

Waldorff said parts of the fire were really hard to put out but fortunately, most of the chemicals and gas bottles that would have exploded were safely stored in a concrete room.

Flames got into the ceiling and spread fast throughout the single-story building, which was constructed just two years earlier, he said.

Firefighters were able to keep the blaze from reaching a nearby row of storage units, but little could be done to salvage the auto parts building.

The Marianna Fire Department was called in with their aerial truck which allowed them to put water on the top of the burning structure.

Firefighters remained on scene until just before 7 a.m. Friday to hose down numerous hot spots,  “It was a total loss,” Waldorff said.  “All the inventory is gone.”  He added that the combination of oil and water from the fire hoses “left a very messy scene due to all the oil and the flood it created.”

An investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office determined that the fire started in the back southwest corner of the building, where hydraulic hoses are made.  Waldorff said it is thought that a spark may have been left in that area when hoses were cut.  “We think they cut their last hose at 4 or 5 p.m.. There was a delivery at 7 p.m. but no sign of smoke at that time,” he said.

In addition to the Altha and Marianna Fire Departments, Nettle Ridge VFD, Magnolia VFD and the Blountstown Fire Department also responded.

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November 3rd, 2017



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