Huge warehouse blaze forces evacuations

Wednesday, February 7th 2007, 10:01 am
By: News On 6

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A spectacular fire destroyed a vacant, century-old warehouse early Wednesday, injuring three firefighters and forcing some people to evacuate nearby apartments.

Flying embers ignited fires on nearby roofs but they were quickly extinguished, officials said.

``It was raining fire,'' said Fire Capt. Darrell Whitaker.

Firefighters had to run when a 50-foot-long section of wall began wobbling, then crashed down on a fire engine, burying it in debris.

City spokesman Randy Kenner said firefighters found the two buildings of the McClung warehouse engulfed in flames when they arrived shortly after 1 a.m.

Authorities evacuated people from nearby apartments and from the Old City entertainment area. Residents were allowed to return by dawn but were advised not to operate ventilation systems because of the smoke.

The injured firefighters were sent to a hospital, but officials said they didn't believe the three were seriously burned.