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Fire hits Raceway: Store destroyed; no damage to pumps

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

COVINGTON -- An early morning fire damaged a Covington landmark and had Covington Fire Department firefighters hustling for several hours to extinguish the blaze.

The Raceway gas station on U.S. Highway 278 caught fire about 7:30 a.m. Firefighters managed to contain the fire to the building and no gas pumps were involved, CFD Capt. Rob Christopher said.

"When we arrived, we found heavy black smoke coming from the eaves of the building," Christopher said. "The employees were exiting the building when we arrived, and we secured the fuel pumps and evacuated everyone."

The point or origin for the fire was determined to be a rear storage room.

"The cause is undetermined at this time. Assistant Fire Marshal Tony Smith is in charge of the investigation. There was a total loss of contents of the building with major structural damage to the building," Christopher said.

Christopher said gas stations have safety measures in place in case of fire.

"There's a cutoff point that shuts power down to the pumps, and that was accomplished," he said.

Nevertheless, extinguishing the building fire was a challenge and required the full complement of CFD firefighters with all their apparatus.

"That type of building has a multiple layer roof," Christopher said, adding that the roof was layered with a sheet of rubber stretched underneath the roof, a void space and then the actual roof.

"The fire got between the rubbery layer and the roof itself and traveled across," he said. "Removing that rubber layer was quite a challenge. Also, in the storage room, the fire got up in between the wall behind some equipment, which made it difficult to get to the fire itself."

Christopher said because so many CFD firefighters were fighting the blaze, the Newton County Fire Service was on standby should another call come in.

"Overall, the firefighters did an exceptional job holding the fire where it was at. Most of the structural damage was to the storage area and roof, and there was smoke and water damage to the contents of the building," he said.

Christopher thanked the NCFS, EMS technicians who established a rehab area for the firefighters, and the Covington Police Department, which maintained traffic control.

Christopher said there was too much damage to the building for it to be open for business without repair and said the premises had been turned back over to the owners to decide their course of action.