Two people confirmed dead following Palestine fire - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Two people confirmed dead following Palestine fire

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PALESTINE, TX (KLTV) -

Two people have been confirmed dead following a fire in Palestine.

The fire started at around 12 o'clock last night in the 100 block of East Oak Street.

Anderson County fire departments have been fighting this fire, and clearing the rubble for several hours. 

"They've been on shift for over 24 hours," said Wendy Ellis, Palestine Interim City Manager.

Firefighters have been clearing the rubble to search for two unaccounted persons.

"We're trying to dig all the debris out. We have two unaccounted people so we're trying to make sure they are not in there," said Alan Wilcher, Palestine Fire Chief.

According to the fire chief, the building that once stood there was a thrift store

"We did have a two bedroom apartment upstairs, and at times people were staying there," said Wilcher. "They told us there was possibly 4 people in there, and 2 people got out. They didn't see anybody follow them out."

Firefighters are still talking with the two who managed to escape, but don't have much to go off of.

"The guy had a garden hose, and he was trying to put it out around the cash register. He was trying to put the stuff out, and it just grew so he, and his buddy ran out of the building."

At times firefighters used their hands to dig through the rubble for any victims.

"We're just going through it with small shovels, racks, and hoes. We are sorting through it to see if we can find any fragments, or any remains of anybody that would tell us somebody was here," said Wilcher.

They are also relying on search dogs.

"They pick up on human scents, and can determine if there was anyone in the building," said Ellis.

"They didn't really alert on anything. They can alert up to 8 feet down in the cracks, and crevasses," said Wilcher. "One dog had a minor alert, but it could have been anything there."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

"It will be an ongoing process, and could take days, or weeks to get to everything that we need to know," said Ellis.

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