By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
City firefighters were called twice on December 27 to battle separate blazes that destroyed a Cruit Drive storage barn and threatened several mobile homes in close proximity to the barn.
AFD units were dispatched around 1:15 a.m. to the site, just off Jack Springs Road and a few yards from the Escambia County School System Bus Shop, then were recalled shortly after 6 a.m. when the debris reignited.
Firefighters gained control of the flames quickly during the first response, then pulled the remains of the wood and tin structure apart and spread the contents across the ground in order to make sure the fire didn’t rekindle. They were on the scene for about two hours.
Anita Mancil, who lives in a mobile home about 25 or 30 feet from the flaming structure, said she was getting ready for bed when she noticed thick smoke surrounding her residence.
“At first I thought it was fog,” Mancil said. “But when I looked out, I saw that it wasn’t fog. It scared me because it was so close to my house and my daughter’s house. It was so close that it buckled some of the siding on my trailer.”
Fire Chief Ron Peebles said the blaze started when flames from a burning pile of trash spread to the dry grass around the burn pile, then to the building.
“The trash fire burned a large patch of grass, then it got up under the shed and there she went,” said the fire chief, who added that he didn’t expect the last AFD units to clear the scene until around 4 a.m., possibly later.
Mancil said the storage barn belongs to her employer, a Florida woman who owns several rental properties here.
AFD units were sent back to the site shortly after 6 a.m. when steady breezes fanned the smoldering remains and flames erupted anew.
Firefighters, who had poured more than 2,000 gallons of water on the burning structure during their first response, sprayed hundreds more gallons on the new blaze as the sun rose over the city.
While some manned hoses, others pulled red-hot tin from the burning debris so that flames beneath the tin could be extinguished.