Fire tears through old ice cream building in downtown Dothan

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Dothan fire crews responded to a structure fire on North Foster and Powell Street with heavy fire and smoke conditions Thursday morning.

The department was on scene within three minutes of receiving the call and could hear the roof collapse.

“We were not able to make an interior attack initially,” said Dothan Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Etheredge. “We were able to do what we call a defensive attack meaning keeping our people safe due to the collapse, and get heavy volumes of water on the fire and begin to bring it under control.”

In order to keep the fire contained, response time is critical, and every minute the fire has to develop cause more damage to the building.

“The issue here with it being a vacant property is there was nobody in the building to discover the fire,” Etheredge said. “So, it developed significantly, we believe, inside the structure until someone passing by saw it. It had heavy fire involvement here and every minute of that is more and more damage to the structure.”

As the firefighters took a break one community member helped to serve them water, and she spoke to me about why she wanted to help.

“When there is something tragic happening in our town it’s not just first responders who are called to respond,” Elizabeth Hinton said. “I’m a local pastor and trained to respond to (a) crisis as well and be a presence here however I can to support my community.”

Etheredge said they also made a call to the water and electric management team for the city, who were able to turn on pumps and divert water to the area of the fire to make sure they had every bit of water needed to bring the fire under control.

There were also crews at the site Thursday night with a crane going through the building and trying to figure out what started the fire.

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