At approximately noon on Monday, Walmart evacuated customers and employees due to a fire in the store.
Washington Fire Department (WFD) reported to the scene, 1397 Leesburg Ave., Washington C.H. According to WFD Fire Chief Tim Downing, Concord-Green Township Fire Department was called in for mutual aid.
“The fire itself was relatively small, confined to one area (in the storage rooms near the meat section),” said Downing.
The fire, according to Downing, was located above one of the coolers and was in relation to the construction ongoing at the store. There were no injuries reported.
“Walmart did a very good job (handling the situation). By the time our people were there, the entire store was evacuated,” said Downing. “One of the (Walmart) employees on site did use extinguishers to knock the fire down. Then our fire fighters went in and finished putting the fire out and cleaning all the burning and smoldering debris out of the structure.”
Downing further explained that both the WFD fire fighters and Concord-Green fire fighters did a “fantastic” job.
“Thanks to (Concord-Green), we were able to have the staffing to handle this fire,” he said. “The sheriff’s (office), the police department, EMS—all on scene, all helping to maintain crowd control and making sure that nobody went in or out of the building.”
According to Downing, this was his second incident where they needed to work with Fayette County Public Health (FCPH). Before Walmart could reopen, they would need to get the “okay” from FCPH, explained Downing.
“It’s really nice to have people like that in our community—like the health department employees. They just do a fantastic job, and they’re part of the team. We all just work together. Just—once again, it’s great to have them there and their expertise so we don’t end up having somebody get sick off food that may have smoke (damage) or gotten too warm from the fire,” said Downing.
He also mentioned that it was brought to his attention that a person took photos of the fire prior to evacuating.
“I would encourage everyone to remember that there is not a lot of time when there is a fire—a fire can grow very quickly, and it’s the smoke that’s the most dangerous. As the smoke spreads, it can definitely put people in danger very quickly. So, we really just need to get out and not take pictures of the fires,” he said. “With a fire, it’s always just best to get out right away. That way we don’t have the possibility of entrapped victims. If somebody gets injured, it means our fire fighters now can’t fight the fire because we have to remove that victim. That can be more hazardous for everybody involved.”
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.