Car crash sparks massive fire at Lincoln County business
LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. (WAFF) - Firefighters got an early wake-up call Thursday morning to put out a large fire just across the Tennessee state line.
First responders said the fire started at 3:45 a.m. at Palatec Manufacturing, Inc. in the Park City area of Lincoln County, Tennessee.
When first responders arrived at the business along Highway 231/431, they were greeted with a car wreck that struck a pole which fell into wood pallets.
A transformer that was damaged in the crash started sparking and sent the entire place up in flames.
Lincoln County EMA and County Fire Chief Doug Campbell said in the middle of those wood pallets sat a 1,000 gallon propane tank that blew up, knocking several of his men off of their feet.
“We were there setting up operations and one of our officers was around on the back side of the unit and they noticed that it was starting to go off at the pop off valve and they did an all-call for everybody to get back,” Campbell said. “We we’re just very fortunate and blessed that nobody was hurt in this. I was standing there when that went off, me and several of the other guys and you don’t want to go through that again.”
Campbell added that the assistance from first responders all around was a blessing as the fire quickly became out of their control.
“We started paging additional units, we got fire units on the scene and they started trying to assess what was going on and it was quickly growing out of our control with that many pallets and then the oil from the transformer naturally helping to ignite them from the spark,” Campbell said.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said the driver of the car survived the wreck and is expected to recover.
Highway 231/431 was shut down for several hours after the crash, but both roadways are now back open.
A WAFF 48 viewer captured dramatic video of the flames reaching propane tanks, igniting a huge explosion:
Firefighters Caleb and Crethton Caldwell said it was one of the biggest fires they have ever seen.
“The heat was very overwhelming,” Caleb Cadwell said. “If you had stayed in front of the house across the street, it felt like there were little pins stabbing you through your turnout gear.”
Crethton Caldwell thanked the quick response from local volunteer firefighters for their efforts.
“Without the volunteers, this would have been a lot worse,” he said. “It would have affected people’s homes. The whole business burned, but there were so many places around this fire that could have been affected.”
As for the business, Palatec owners say they have other locations and are still shipping pallets out.
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