Huge fire destroys Florence tire store, 5 kittens rescued

WBTW News Staff - FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) - Fire rescue crews in Florence responded to a large fire Monday morning.

Florence Fire Chief Randy Osterman says a call came in around 3 A.M. at Heafner Tire and Products warehouse on 523 South Irby Street.

According to Chief Osterman it took fire departments from West Florence, Howe Springs and Windy Hill to get the fire under control.

Steve Head who works across the street from the tire store said, "I pulled up and saw the fire trucks. It was blazing, fully engulfed with flames. These guys are doing a great job and luckily no one was hurt."

The Heafner Tire building is used as a storage facility for tires.

According to Chief Osterman between 15,000 to 20,000 tires are kept inside.

"The fire caused the roof to collapse on top of the tires so what we ended up with now is smoldering tires underneath a lot of roofing material," Osterman said.

Fire crews had to separate the tires to kill the remaining hot spots.

"At the peak of the fire we probably had about 40 to 45 firefighters," said Osterman.

While that effort continued Monday afternoon, people who live nearby had to take a different route to get home.

Shelia Lima and her husband lives behind Heafner Tire.

"We hate to see things like this happen but it's bound to happen," said Shela Lima.

Lima says the building has been an eyesore for as long as she could remember.

"The eyesore is one thing but the safety is the main issue so you know we'll just see what happens from here," Lima mentioned.

Others have better memories about the site.

"My father built this in 1941. I was about 5 years old. It had become rundown and it didn't look very attractive but when they built it, it was a beautiful building. Even though we have sold it, it still has an emotional attachment," said Harvey Senseney.

Firefighters did manage to rescue 5 kittens inside the building.  They were taken by the Florence Animal Control for observation.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Count on News13 and for updates.

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