ATTALLA, Ala. (WBRC) - Some good news in Attalla as a warehouse fire is now 90% contained and some fire departments have been sent home after battling the fire at Gadsden Cartage for more than a day.
The fire is 90% contained, but crews say there are still some challenges in the fire burning at Gadsden Cartage, located just off the intersection of Highways 77 and 11.
Highway 77 next to the location has been reopened, but we understand there’s still a large plume at the site.
The blaze began around 12:30 p.m. Monday afternoon and firefighters never left.
More than 150 firefighters from throughout Etowah and its surrounding counties, and as far away as Jefferson and Shelby Counties, were providing mutual aid.
Firefighters say they’ve been having trouble controlling the blaze in the centers of the buildings, and have been spraying the exteriors to reduce the dark plume that has been coming from the warehouse. Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade reporting seeing the plume from Alexandria in Calhoun County - a good 27 miles from the fire.
The biggest challenge is the blaze that destroyed the two-winged, 75,000 square foot building was fueled by large amounts of paper being stored there. We’ve been told everything from paper plates, to shredded paper meant for a recycling center.
"It's large bales of paper in there, they're pushed together, so they're burning, a lot of it, in the center of it, so basically we're just having to put a lot of water on it to try to get penetration into that paper to put it out," said Major Larry Milam, incident commander on behalf of the Attalla Fire Department.
And that means using up a lot of water.
Fire hydrants in the immediate area weren’t providing enough water, so tanker trucks are driving two, three miles away to fill up at hydrants just across the Gadsden City Limits. At first, the water took so much out of the Attalla Water System, water pressure was very low in many areas. Attalla Schools closed Tuesday due to the sudden water shortage.
"We've been using a continuous shuttle, providing water with dunk tanks to support the aerial apparatus, from several different field sites," Milam told reporters.
Milam acknowledged an outpouring of support for the many firefighters who had to fight the fire in record breaking heat. Many of the people want to show support in the way of donations, but Milam says they have enough in food, water, and donations from area businesses, and will keep the public updated via the Gadsden-Etowah County EMA page on Facebook.