FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Florence firefighters responded to a fire at the Old Heafner Tire facility on Irby Street Monday morning at approximately 3, according to Florence City Fire Chief Randall Osterman.
The heavy fire was controlled around 6 a.m.
"As those tires burnt, it created a great amount of heat and that caused the roof to collapse on top of the tires," Osterman said. "So now we have a situation where you have burning tires underneath a bunch of roofing material. So it's taken some time to get in and pull that roofing material off, to get to the burning tires and extinguish those."
City of Florence Public Works was also demolishing parts of the building in order to safely get to all the tires. No one was injured, Osterman added.
he building is not a running business, just a place for tire storage. Five kittens were rescued from inside and taken to animal control.
Fire crews from West Florence, Howe Springs and Windy Hill were also on the scene. The old Heafner building sat on Irby Street near downtown Florence since it was built back in 1941.
Eddie Springs said it's been a part of his and his family's lives for the past 30 years.
"I worked there 17-and-a-half years as a wholesale distributor and then we decided we needed a warehouse and finally got it so … and now it's gone," Springs said.
He added his only hope when he was driving to the building after he got the call was it wouldn't be burned down, but it was.
"Well I was in bed and my daughter called me and said, 'Daddy, the Heafner store is on fire," Springs said.
The incident could spark some concern for people in the community after recent fires arose in the northwest Florence area.
An abandoned home burnt down right before fire crews were called to the Heafner blaze. Osterman said people can't assume, and it's too early to link them together.
"With the number of fires we've had, the police department has done an excellent job in putting additional resources in those areas to curtail any possible arson activity," Osterman said.
For Springs, the Heafner is not just a building, but more like history.
"It used to be the old Studebaker place and it's the design of the building was what was so unique with it," he said. "The vinyl siding was all covered and I was working on it to get it back to where it was."
The cause of the fire is undetermined. The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, and Florence fire and police are investigating.