On March 1, 2003, the Fannin County, Georgia volunteer fire department was alerted to a shopping center fire in downtown Blue Ridge, GA. The first trucks arrived on scene within two minutes of the first alarm and began an agressive attack. The shopping center consisted of four retail stores, a church, an insurance agency and one empty retail unit.
Upon arrival fire was already rolling out of the store it began in, which was a clothing consignment shop. The nature of the business allowed the fire to heat up and spread quickly throughout the building through a common ceiling. In all, five Fannin County engines responded, along with mutual aid provided by Tower 1 from Ellijay, GA, some 15 miles away.
Primary emphasis was placed on protecting neighboring structures and propane tanks to the rear of the building, which was handled by Engine 2 and several deluge guns. The next order of business was to stop the spread of fire in the shopping center, which became exceedingly difficult due to the lack of firewalls between businesses. Because of this fire was allowed to spread almost un-checked throughout the entire building. Venting was both impractical and nearly impossible due to the double-roof construction...ie, rather than repairing a leaking roof years ago it was fixed by building a second, taller roof over it.
In all, 47 firefighters responded and spent 9 1/2 hours on-scene. Both the insurance agency and empty unit were saved on the far end of the building. The sewing machine shop and church suffered extensive fire and water damage, and three businesses were a total loss. Most importantly, everyone went home safely with no injuries.