Love County first responders battle fire, extreme heat during Tuesday blaze

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite
A section of a metal building is removed to give firefighters better access to the structure near Thackerville Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

First responders from across Love County fought back a fire near Thackerville as temperatures soared near 100 degrees on Tuesday. The fire occurred at a metal building construction site where firefighters were forced outside when the structure became too dangerous to enter. 

“The building was under construction at the time of the fire and because of the intense heat the metal roof beams started buckling so firefighters were forced to attack the fire from the outside,” read a social media post from Fire Department Love County, an association of volunteer fire departments across the county. 

Love County EM Assistant Director David Bond said personnel from nine fire departments responded along with support teams from Love County EMS and Love County Rehab. With temperatures in the 90s and a heat index over 100 degrees on Tuesday, crews worked in rotation in order to prevent heat-related illness. 

A firefighter directs a stream of water into a severely damaged metal building near Thackerville Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

“We probably had 30 to 40 people out there plus we had our rehab division brought water and Gatorade and whatnot down because of the hot weather. We were getting worn out pretty fast,” Bond said on Wednesday. 

The Winstar Fire Brigade first responded to the fire on Sandpiper Road southwest of Thackerville around 3 p.m. and Bond said crews remained on the scene for over three hours. With no nearby water connections for firefighters to use, Bond estimated upwards of 30,000 gallons of water had to be trucked to two engines on scene. 

The fire is believed to have burned through uncovered insulating spray foam on interior walls. Bond said that the extreme heat likely caused structural beams to buckle and make the structure unsafe for crews to enter. 

“There were some pallets and stuff of things they were getting ready to install. Those pallets were on fire in different parts of the building and we had to try to access it from the outside because it was too dangerous to send a firefighter in,” Bond said. 

A scorched scissor lift sits beneath bowed metal beams after a fire near Thackerville Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

Sparks from cutting nearby metal at the construction site may have started the fire and Bond said his research into the spray foam shows that fire can consume the material quickly if ignited. 

“We get a lot of those things where contractors or homeowners will do 100 times and then one time it just doesn’t work out. You can’t really fault anybody. It just happens sometimes,” Bond said. 

“It’s really designed, though, to be covered up at the end of the process. Whenever you’re done with your building, you cover it with some sort of thermal barrier like sheetrock or something more flame resistant,” Bond said. 

While the building is likely a complete loss, Bond said no injuries were reported. Construction crews also worked with firefighters to remove sections of the building and allow firefighters to attack the blaze from outside. 

The FDLC social media post said that many volunteer departments in the county are low on funds and volunteers and Bond said any community support is welcome. The Lake Murray Eastside Fire Department has a fundraiser in Marietta scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11.