09/22/10 347 W, 2 I - + 7 - 7 Hunt General Tire Company Warehouse, 1980

Thirty years and one month ago. Three-alarms (?) at 424 S. McDowell Street on August 9, 1980. Hunt General Tire Company warehouse, a one-story building reported ablaze about 7:00 p.m. Flames shot five stories high through the roof. Poole's Luncheonette next door caught fire on their roof by 8 p.m. That building also suffered heavy smoke damage. Flames also spread to a one-story building that housed two law offices, and a fire and burglar alarm business. It was destroyed. Also damaged, mostly by smoke and water, were offices housing the county food stamp program.

More than 50 firefighters responded with four engines, three trucks, and two rescues. Ten firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation, and other minor injuries. Three were apparently injured when a section of the warehouse roof collapsed on them. Six were transported and later released. The fire was brought under control at 9:45 p.m. Fire losses were estimated at $700,000, and more than 10,000 tires were destroyed. Units on scene included E1, E13, E3, E5, E4, E6, T1, T7 (service truck), T11 (service truck), T16, R_, C5 (District Chief).

"Stacks of tires [burned] like torches" reported the next day's News & Observer. Crews continued extinguishing fires inside the structure through the evening. "There's nothing you can do with a building full of tires," one firefighter was quoted as saying. A pillar of thick black smoke rose "high into the clear evening sky," noted the newspaper, "and the stench of burning tires spread throughout Raleigh." The fire attracted hundreds of spectators, and traffic was congested for blocks. The fire started in or near a small office used by the warehouse manager.

The operator of the fire and burglar alarm business said "it's ironic that I tried to sell the people on the block some fire alarms when I moved in" a few months earlier. Noted the News & Observer, the warehouse was not equipped with a fire alarm. The company's tire dealership was located two doors from the warehouse. 

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