A fire broke out on Spring Avenue in downtown Tyler directly behind the court house. It was first reported at roughly 7:30 p.m.
Tyler Fire Department, along with the Lindale, Noonday and Dixie Fire Departments, finally took control of the blaze that spread through multiple offices along the downtown square at approximately 11:15. More than ten fire trucks were on location with cranes to extinguish the fire.
“I got paged out at 7:50 p.m.,” Matt York, Dixie Fire Department Captain, said. “We aren’t exactly sure where it started, but it started in the area on the north side of Levine’s.”
York said the fire spread from Levine’s to the outside of Arcadia, where it is now contained. He said it worked its way through all of the law offices in between, burning four to five businesses.
Witnesses say it took approximately 20 minutes for firefighters to take action.
Chance Hazel, a bartender a Sport Zone located on the square across the street from the fires, said he “looked out the window and saw the building smoking.”
He said firefighters arrived to the scene quickly, “while it was only smoke,” but didn’t act immediately.
“I saw fire truck upon fire truck pulling up, but it took them 20 minutes before they started hosing it down,” Hazel said. “I don’t know why.”
Another witness, Donna Wagner, an employee at Rick’s On The Square agreed with Hazel.
“I saw the firefighters circling the building, just standing there before they did anything,” Wagner said.
Wagner went on the say firefighters inspected the building front and back multiple times before attempting to extinguish the flames.
Jeff Akin, Captain of the Tyler Fire Department, said there are specific reasons for their actions.
“If we send a bunch of firemen in immediatly, without knowing everything, then we could have something collapse on them,” Akin said. “When the men were walking around the building, they were doing what we call a ‘size up’ to decide what they were going to do to put the fire out.”
Aksin said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but they should know something in two to three days.