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Fire likely will continue burning for days

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Fire quickly spread and destroyed a Franklin business building and is expected to continue burning and smouldering for days.

The cold weather made putting the blaze out difficult for firefighters, who continued to battle the fire for more than four hours after it started.

After the flames were out, the fire continued to smoulder, and Franklin firefighters will stay and watch the building until the fire is out.

Dozens of firefighters rotated in and out of the subzero temperatures Monday afternoon. Frigid weather created ice chunks on their gear and caused a large sheet of ice to form around the building, closing the road nearby.

The fire at 191 Commerce Drive started about 11 a.m. Firefighters saw heavy smoke and flames coming out of the roof on the north end of the building, Franklin Fire Department spokesman Brad Epperson said.

Employees working inside the building at Doug’s Franklin Auto Care Center were told to evacuate by Franklin firefighters, Epperson said. They weren’t aware the building was on fire, he said. The other two businesses in the building, Miller Chemical Tech and Fierce Allstars — Cheer and Tumbling, were unoccupied, and no one was injured.

Firefighters haven’t yet determined where the fire started or what sparked it. They plan to begin investigating today.

Fire in the attic weakened the roof so firefighters could not fight the fire from inside, Epperson said. While spraying water on the fire from outside, the roof of the building collapsed, he said.

“It just continued to go through that attic all the way down the building. I’m watching it right now; they have two aerial devices on it and they’re putting streams down on it and for the most part the roof is completely gone,” Epperson said Monday afternoon.

Nearby buildings were not damaged, Epperson said.

The amount of water sprayed from fire hoses created a large sheet of ice around the business, making it dangerous for firefighters.

Once the fire was out, Commerce Drive remained closed because of the amount of ice on the road, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said.

About 40 firefighters from five departments came to help fight the blaze.

Firefighters were continually rotating in and out to take breaks to warm up, since temperatures in Franklin were about 10 degrees below zero.

Water that splashed onto firefighters’ gear was also freezing and covering them in ice, Epperson said.

“When their turnout gear gets wet, it instantly freezes. They are walking around with literal chunks of ice on them. The oxygen regulators are freezing when we’re coming out, so we have to chip the regulators to get the masks off the guys,” Epperson said.

Fire hydrants in the area were not frozen, which sped up efforts to start fighting the fire, he said.

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