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Abilene Reporter-News building suffers heavy damage after electrical fire


(Courtesy: Steve Tulcus){p}{/p}
(Courtesy: Steve Tulcus)

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Heavy smoke coming from the roof of the Abilene Reporter-News building began filling the morning sky in downtown Abilene on Thursday.

"Our lights started flickering in the newsroom," said Greg Jaklewicz, the editor of the Abilene Reporter-News.

Jaklewicz knew that something was not right at the Abilene Reporter-News building.

"There was electrical equipment on the roof and it was sparking like major welding," said Jaklewicz.

About 60 firefighters from the Abilene Fire Department arrived at the Abilene Reporter-News building with three ladders and five engines.

The Abilene Reporter-News building was evacuated and the power was shut off inside of it while firefighters went inside of the building and on to the building's roof to battle the blaze.

"[We] quickly laddered the building and determined there was an electrical fire," said Abilene Deputy Fire Chief John Brunett.

Water pressure was initially a problem because of the rate of daytime water usage in downtown Abilene, but that issue was quickly resolved.

"We asked the the water department to increase pressure down here," said Brunett.

Just a short time after the blaze began, firefighters were ordered off of the building's roof.

Portions of the roof then collapsed shortly after firefighters were ordered to evacuate from it.

Firefighters became fatigued from going up and down ladders and the containment of the fire became a defensive effort at that point.

Thousands of gallons of water were sprayed from aerial ladders on to the Abilene Reporter-News building.

"We really weren't putting it out until we got the roof opened up," said Brunett.

Nobody was injured as a result of the fire and firefighters continued to spray hot spots at the Abilene Reporter-News building throughout the day.

The Abilene Reporter-News has made arrangements to print their newspaper like usual in spite of the fire that has damaged their building.

News In Photos: "Abilene"

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