Building damaged in Highland blaze did not have sprinkler system - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Building damaged in Highland Strip blaze did not have sprinkler system

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It was determined that the building did not have a sprinkler system. It was determined that the building did not have a sprinkler system.
Reports of a fire in the around began to roll into WMC Action News 5 shortly before 5 p.m. Reports of a fire in the around began to roll into WMC Action News 5 shortly before 5 p.m.
MEMPHIS, TN -
(WMC-TV) - Businesses destroyed, smoke for miles, onlookers shocked and two firefighters were hurt in a Sunday afternoon fire in Memphis.

Several buildings were damaged by fire and smoke in the Highland Strip area.

Just after 4 p.m. on Sunday a massive blaze ignited and crews were called to 559 South Highland, near the University of Memphis. After spending two hours getting the fire under control, Memphis firefighters kept a close eye on the area to make sure no more fires ignite.

Logan McGowan was working next door and says it took crews three minutes to arrive on the scene.

"We looked out and smoke was just billowing out of this building and we saw it above the top, I didn't see any flames but they started to crowd around and they started to pour water on it and its just getting worse and worse," said McGowan.

Smoke filled the street, with the sun peaking in and out of the brown clouds.

"They started just hacking off the front of it, breaking the windows to get water in the front of it as well," added McGowan.

Neighbors rushed over to find Signatures Custom Apparel shop fully engulfed.

"It was getting bad and they were keeping it contained until they moved over to Division 9 and that's when it got a little bit worse," said Michael James.

Two firefighters were injured during the recovery efforts, one treated for smoke inhalation and the other for a cut to the forehead.

The second alarm fire brought 39 pieces of equipment and 93 people, rotating crews every 15 minutes. Spencer Lucas with Second Light Productions came to the scene to capture drone footage.

"I saw this and I had to get a shot of it," said Lucas.

Memphis fire officials say the age of the building made it difficult to fight.

"There was a roof collapse. The structure is very large although it doesn't look that big from the front but it goes back quite deeply.  So once the roof collapsed it took us awhile to get the fire under control, with all the debris," said Division 9 Chief Keith Staples. 

Firefighters shut down traffic and closed most nearby businesses temporarily and kept the fire from spreading, which provided relief for the booming strip of businesses near the University of Memphis.

"Our buildings are separated so at least we're not going up in flames as well," noted McGowan.

The good news is that both firefighters are in non-critical condition and only one was taken to the hospital.

As for the cause of the investigation, fire officials say they will not know much until Monday. However, it was determined that the building did not have a sprinkler system.

Individuals from a neighboring business speculate that it may have been sparked by a cord or cable.

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