PCFR immediately responded to a fire in the Mann Building in historic downtown on Jan. 11.
A fire sparked to life in the wee hours of the morning on Jan. 11 in the Mann Building in historic downtown on Reynolds Street.
Smoke wafted out of the old building and the fire department saw a stream of water flowing from Mr. Sebas Ice Cream Store. There was an attempt to get access to keys to get into the building and the firefighters eventually forced entry into the ice cream store, according to the incident report. The water was there, but there were no active sprinklers. So the second floor was entered. The hallways were clear, no smoke barred the way and the historic doors — all of which were locked — were opened before the department entered a suite toward one end of the hall.
Smoke blanketed the floor and a trail of black, charred wood led up a small section of the back wall. The fire was smoldering, confined to the area of its initial blaze, thanks to the renovation in the 90s that led to the instillation of a sprinkler system into the old building. The two sprinkler heads were able to keep it quelled until the department could finish extinguishing the fire.
The incident report states the fire was found to be caused by a waste bin fire while no one was in the building. The flames then extended to cabinetry nearby. However, the sprinklers were able to contain the fire to the area of origin.
“The last time we had a fire in downtown, we lost half a city block of historic buildings,” Ed Verner, owner of the Mann and Lee buildings, said. “I think that was on everyone’s mind that night. There was a quick response, both by the fire department and several of those who work in the two buildings who rushed over to provide keys… the sprinkler system in place absolutely dampened the flames and probably saved both buildings. The fire department did a great job at responding quickly and doing their best to ensure that the fire did not spread to the rest of the building.”
Verner said when he arrived on the scene he even saw Fire Chief David Burnett with a mop in his hand, attempting to get rid of some of the water.
The Mann and the Lee buildings are now joined following the renovation Verner had done in the late 90s. Each had a brick wall that was adjacent to one another. Though each had major renovations, much of the original hundred-year-old wooden structure remains in place.
The dousing of the fire has led to water damage throughout the building, but Verner has already begun repairs.
“Theres a few people I think it’s important I thank for their quick actions that helped assist in responding to that night,” Verner said. “LaRoyce Keene and Debby Keene were one of the first on the scene to help assist the firefighters and helped them get access to the Mann Building. Tom Thompson was also there to help give access to the Lee Building. Robert Norton also responded before the sprinklers had even turned off. I also need to thank Jason Jones with Advantage Restoration. They were onsite immediately and helped to evacuate the water. They’ve helped save a lot of the damage.”