The Chair Factory building on Industrial Boulevard caught fire Wednesday afternoon. Around 12:30 p.m. a fire alarm alerted authorities. The alarm was activated by the sprinkler system. No employees were in the building at the time of the fire.
Division Chief Keith Smith with the City of Gainesville Fire Department said the fire started in the roof. Crews found an active fire when they arrived on the scene. Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire in the roof fairly quickly and Chief Smith says that is largely due to the sprinkler system. “I cannot express enough how effective that sprinkler system was,” says Smith. “Had there not been a sprinkler system and had that fire grown and continued to burn the roof, with the wood stored inside that building, it could’ve been a very big fire.”
The initial investigation says a squirrel’s nest and an ember could have been the source. Chief Smith says crews found a squirrel’s nest in a vent in the roof. “It’s a little bizarre,” says Smith. “The area has no wiring or anything flammable. There was no fire inside the building and no one inside. After investigating, it appears an incinerator was running - maybe 40-50 ft. away from the area. It appears embers from that were able to travel due to the windy conditions and ignited that squirrel’s nest and resulted in a fire in the roof.”
No firefighters were injured. No employees were injured either as the staff was out of the building at a Christmas party in another location.
Chief Smith says that a section of the roof had to be torn open to ensure all of the fire was extinguished. Other than that, the fire was contained to a small area and should result in estimated damage totals of $3,000 or less.