Florence law firm erupts in flames

Crews battle blaze on E. College Street in Florence

FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - A massive fire broke out in downtown Florence Thursday morning. The Potts & Young Attorneys law firm on East College Street erupted in flames.

Officials said crews had to work all day to put out the massive blaze. They said heavy smoke was coming from the building which triggered the alarm. Crews worked tirelessly to get control of the fire.

"There were flames visible in one of the upstairs windows, the guys made entry to start the fire attack and were faced with many obstacles," said Deputy Fire Chief Tim Anerton.

Anerton said the building is old but up to code. He said the aging building has two layers with a tar and gravel roof then a metal roof, which made access to the structure difficult. He says when crews made their way into the building the temperatures were so high their helmets began to melt.

"It's very difficult, we have some guys who have been here a long time and they all agree this fire has been one of the hardest ones in many years they have had to deal with," said Anerton.

Anerton said downtown Florence hasn't seen a fire this bad in over a decade. He said he is thankful no one was hurt.

"In all my years I have never seen anything like this, and I think a lot of the firefighters haven't seen something like this hot and this contained in the building," said Dick Jordan, owner of MJ Carter Insurance.

Volunteer fire crews from the surrounding areas helped to keep the flames from spreading.

"They are working very hard. I think they have done a very good job with the conditions and the structure of the building," said Joe Duster.

Officials said the fire started on the second floor. They are still investigating the cause for the fire. Anerton said there is no evidence of anything suspicious.

Anerton said East College Street will be closed for several days.

Attorney Will Diver at Hughes and Diver law firm said the Alabama State Bar requires all law firms to have a backup system. he said the majority of law firms have a server onsite that allows them to upload documents and case information to cloud memory that can be recovered after an incident such as a fire.

"Always ask your attorney and make sure they are using the most up to date recovery system," said Diver.

Diver said it's important for clients to keep original documents it's best to just give your lawyer.

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