A major fire destroyed a building in downtown Palestine Saturday amid unconfirmed reports of individuals being inside.
A news release from Interim City Manager Wendy Ellis stated there were unconfirmed reports of the possibility of individuals being inside the building. CBS 19 reported two bodies were found in the burned structure.
Palestine Fire Department and several other fire departments fought the major fire Saturday in the 100 block of East Oak Street in Palestine.
Palestine Police dispatch received a report of the structure fire at 119 E. Oak St. Palestine Fire Department responded with three engines and a command vehicle.
Upon arrival of the battalion chief, he encountered heavy fire conditions in the rear of the building and heavy smoke throughout the structure, according to a news release from Ms. Ells.
Within minutes of firefighters being on the scene, the structure suffered the first of multiple collapses.
A defensive strategy was employed to protect exposures and fire personnel on the scene, the news release stated. The structure, which reportedly housed a thrift store, was a total loss, according to the news release.
But the fire was contained to that building with surrounding structures sustaining only minimal damage from heat exposure, the news release stated.
Two Palestine firefighters suffered heat-related injuries and received treatment at the scene. Multiple volunteer fire departments responded along with off-duty Palestine Fire Department personnel to battle the fire.
The Jacksonville Fire Department, Palestine Regional Emergency Medical Services, Palestine police and Palestine Public Works also provided additional resources.
The fire is under investigation. The state fire marshal’s office has been contacted to assist with the investigation, the news release stated.
Some streets were closed indefinitely until the situation could be re-evaluated for safety, including East Oak from Avenue A to Sycamore and Houston Street from Avenue A to Crawford Street.