A fire destroyed a building in downtown Bainbridge overnight Tuesday.
According to Bainbridge Public Safety Fire Chief Doyle Welch, a resident of the building heard a loud explosion around 1:30 a.m. and began warning other occupants of the danger. A couple of Public Safety Officers responding to a call at Hutto McIver on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard reported hearing the blast as well. When officers arrived on the scene, the building was already ablaze.
Heroically, Bainbridge Public Safety Officers and Decatur County Firefighters battled the blaze for several hours. The blazing hot flames threatened neighboring buildings and buckled the block building where it started, making the situation too dangerous for entry. The firefighters attacked the flames from several directions, but the most effective form of fighting was an aerial assault using Bainbridge Public Safety’s ladder truck to attack the flames from above. However, this proved difficult because the building had several layers of roof (including plywood, shingles, and tin). Eventually, the fire was contained, but as of 9:00 a.m., emergency personnel were still putting out “hot spots” in the building’s roof and ceiling.
Visible damage could be seen to the structural integrity of the building, including cracked cinder block, buckling walls, and more than 50% of the roof damaged or missing. Because of the extensive damage to the building and the imminent danger to anyone in or around it, City Marshall Keith Pollock has declared the building unsafe for entry, except by authorized personnel. The State Fire Marshall will conduct an investigation and inspection this afternoon to determine the cause of the fire, but it is believed to have started in the barber shop on the building’s north end.
In addition to housing a barber shop, the building was also the location of a car wash and five residential apartments.
According to Decatur County Tax Records, the building belongs to Andre Jackson of Bainbridge.
No one was injured in the fire and the building is believed to be a total loss.