Shoe store destroyed by massive fire

Friday, October 15th 2004, 6:09 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The owners of a shoe store watched helplessly Thursday as a four-alarm fire gutted their half-century-old business.

One firefighter was injured after responding to the blaze at Loveless Shoes on the city's southwest side. Firefighters, who responded to a call at 11:15 a.m., estimated damage at $1.5 million.

There were no other reports of injuries.

Store owner Walter Loveless said employees and customers ran out of the building when smoke began filling the office area of the store.

``It came up so fast,'' Loveless said. ``I've been here 56 years and I've never, never had a problem.''

Loveless, 79, and his wife, Dean, 78, founded the store in 1948 as a 10-by-20 foot shoe repair shop. The business grew to about half a city block.

``I think this is about the end of it,'' Loveless said as he watched firefighters douse the building. ``When you're 79 years old it'll be a little hard to build something back.''

Flames continued shooting from the building four hours after the fire started, and a tall cloud of smoke was visible from miles away.

Oklahoma City fire Maj. Brian Stanaland said the building's ceiling, made of several layers of ceiling tile, plywood, gypsum wallboard and tar, aided in the rapid spread of the fire.

Thirteen-year veteran Tommy Swanson, 34, was taken to hospital with a broken wrist after falling about 10 feet when a ladder slid out from the building.