Thursday night at 11:30 P.M Norfolk Fire was dispatched to a local dry-cleaning company with sight and smell of heavy smoke.
Engine 1 arrived on scene with the plant manager waiting to let the firefighters in. An attack team of four firefighters advanced a 1 3/4 charged hose into the plant. They were faced with extreme heat and heavy black smoke. The team of 4 zigzagged into the plant 200 feet before finding the fire. The team made a hit on the fire, but the fire had already rolled out a garage door and started the roof on fire. The team of four fought the heat and smoke and tried to put the fire inside the plant out.
Firefighters outside noticed that the roof was becoming engulfed in flames. With concern of a roof collapse, IC radioed to the team of four inside to plant to start to make their way out of the building. The inside team then turned around and followed the hose outside to safety. When the inside firefighters made their way out, Norfolk Fire set up their Snorkel truck in the back of the plant to make a hit on the roof fire.
After about 15 minutes from when the inside team made there way out of the plant, the roof and a section of the outside wall collapsed. After 30 minutes of intense firefighting, Norfolk Fire had the plant fire under control.
Norfolk Fire called in four other mutual aid departments to assist in the fire and overhaul of the plant. Firefighters were on scene for about five hours. The cause of the fire was spontaneous combustion in racks of shop towels. The shop towels were in the racks that afternoon. They were wheeled in early that evening. The combination of heat and the humidity along with the different kinds of chemicals that the shop towels had on them contributed to the internal heat of the racks of towels. The estimated cost of the fire and smoke damage was $500,00.00 to $750,000.00.