Dark clouds of smoke filled the air Thursday afternoon, as Gulf State Cold Storage was engulfed in flames that ultimately consumed the building, which is deemed a total loss, according to the Shreveport Fire Department.
“By the time we got out there. There were a lot of trucks. A lot of people the response seemed adequate,” said Patrick Funk, who works for Horn Companies, located across the street from Gulf State.
Other employees at Horn Companies said they heard the sirens before seeing the flames.
“I looked out the window and a lot of black smoke billowing across the road and probably about 30-minutes later firefighters came and asked us to leave,” Horn said.
Two employees of Gulf State noticed the fire and started evacuating. 911 was called just after 4 p.m. SFD firefighters said when they arrived, they were cautious due to a tank holding 250 gallons of residual oil.
“We were very concerned about that. Especially with the heat causing pressure on the tank and possibly a rupture and exploding,” said SFD Chief Scott Wolverton, “We determined it was safe it was not a problem with an explosion and then we were actually able to get some good water on the fire.”
In addition to the blazing flames, fire crews were concerned with the presence of a hazardous material, anhydrous ammonia, which made conditions even more dangerous for fire fighters and surrounding communities. Nearby businesses advised to evacuate to a designated safe area until authorities deemed the area safe.
Fire officials were told by building management that two employees were doing routine cleaning prior to the fire, and because there was no electricity on the south side of the building, the employees were using a generator to power lights and a heater.
After a short break, employees returned to find heavy smoke in the building and called 9-1-1. The water disconnected, therefore the sprinkler system did not activate to extinguish this fire.
At the peak of the fire, 16 fire apparatus and approximately 50 fire fighters were on-scene fighting fire or staging to perform tasks as needed. The fire was brought under control at 7:33 PM and fire crews will rotate to and from the scene throughout the evening to manage hot spots.
Fortunately, no injuries were reported.