UPDATE 2: Old factory destroyed by fire - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE 2: Old factory destroyed by fire

Posted: Updated:

CLEVELAND, BRADLEY COUNTY (WRCB) - A Cleveland street remains closed as fire crews continue dousing hot spots in what's left of an old plant.

"It had all wood floors, the ceilings were all wood," says Lt. Donnie Sullivan, arson investigator with the Cleveland Fire Department. "It just went up super, super quick."

In no time at all, the windows smoke poured from crumbled with the walls that once housed a chair manufacturing business.

"Recliners, chairs, stuff like that," said former employee Joey Wells, when asked what the plant used to manufacture.

In the daylight Wells, who now works next door at another furniture business, got a look at what's left of the Cleveland Chair Plant. He worked at the plant for nearly 17 years.

"It's been there long as I can remember, it was one of the first jobs I got," Wells tells Channel 3.

The vacant building went up in flames early Thursday morning.

A patrol officer spotted smoke and called for help. But, by the time fire crews arrived, it was clearly a defense mission.

The entire Cleveland Fire Department was called out, 60 firefighters worked through the morning. Some stayed through the day dousing hot spots.

With all the hot spots left inside the building, it could be two to three days before firefighters can get inside to pick through what's left.

"It was a super big fire," says Lt. Sullivan, who is leading the investigation. "Plus, we have a lot of homeless people in this area and we just want to make sure that we don't have a body anywhere."

Sullivan says more than a dozen state arson investigators will work to find a cause and they aren't ruling anything out, but vacant buildings in the area are known to house the homeless on cold nights.

"When we move them from one place, they go to another, it happens, hopefully nobody's in it," he says, looking at the damage.

"I just think it's these people trying to stay warm," says Wells, when asked what he believes started the fire.

Officials tell Channel 3, the electricity and gas to the building had been turned off.

Ronnie Jackson, who owns the plant, did not comment on the fire. His company did release a statement, thanking fire crews.

The building was insured, but only minimally.

Fire investigators hope to get inside by the first of next week.

Until then, 9th Street remains closed.

Powered by Frankly