Posted by Ellen Krafve - email
The investigation is getting underway in downtown Tyler as local fire officials and experts from across the country look to find out exactly what caused last night's massive fire.
Three buildings between the Old New York Store and the Arcadia Coffee Shop were completely gutted by fire.
Officials say this portion of North Spring Street will more than likely be closed off through the rest of the week. The ATF is expecting to bring in some pretty heavy equipment (cranes and dozers) to begin clearing the sight as soon as they can, so they can began nailing down just what happened.
The air and streets are a lot clearer now, but Monday night, was a completely different story as downtown Tyler was all ablaze.
The difference was day and night and more than a dozen units from at least half a dozen Smith County fire crews. It was an armada of firefighters working to contain the inferno.
In all five downtown Tyler addresses either burned or received heavy smoke and water damage. At one point, three ladder trucks were being used to put the fire out. Heavy smoke billowed from the upper floors, blanketing the area.
"At this point we've got at least three separate buildings involved," said Depuity Fire Marshall, Paul Findley.
But the fire spread, from 111 all the way to 119 North Spring Street.
"We heard the fire trucks and we started seeing smoke and I was like, no, we really smell something," said Holly Powell.
Police and fire crews began clearing neighboring apartments. Melanie Thibodeaux and her sons live behind the now burned out building.
"They told me I needed to move my car and by the time I got back there, they said it was too late, so they've got it blocked in," said Thibodeaux. "I don't think I've seen that much smoke before in my life!"
Melanie and other residents were able to return to their homes.
Emergency crews have been trying to stabilize the building to prevent it from collapsing, especially the front fascade which they hope to preserve.