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Posted January 28, 2011 EST

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Downtown Building Burns - Porterville Fire Department
Porterville firefighters spent a large part of their Wednesday morning battling a fire that damaged a vacant storefront in downtown Porterville. The first engine arrived on scene at approximately 8 a.m. to find heavy smoke billowing from the back and roof of the building at 37 N. Main St. between Downtown Shoes and Allen's Boot and Saddle Shop. The fire was in the same Main Street block as the JC Penney fire about 10 years ago and the Bank of the Sierra fire about 20 years ago.

Shortly after arrival Wednesday, flames were seen coming from the roof of the building, Porterville Fire Department Engineer Dan Holloway said.

Melissa Nevarette, employee at The Press Shop Dry Cleaners located just a few doors down, caught a shot of the blaze on her digital camera.

She said that a fellow employee was the first to call the fire department after smelling smoke coming through the building's exhaust fan.

Save Mart employee Eddie Hernandez said he and a few others saw when the roof of the building caved in, as they watched from the office balcony.

"The fire was contained to the back one third of the building, which sustained heavy fire damage and roof collapse," Holloway said. "The front two thirds sustained moderate damage due to heat and smoke."

He added that although the building was vacant, it also had a basement with storage.

"We're not sure whose it is or how much was there but there was damage from water," he said.

Downtown Shoes also sustained light smoke damage, Holloway said. Smoke filled the downtown area and the fire, despite being partially shielded by fog, drew many onlookers.

No one was injured in the fire, which is still under investigation.

The Porterville Fire Department responded with five engines, one ladder truck, two patrol units, Mobile Incident Command Post, four command vehicles and a total of 27 personnel.

Tulare County Fire also responded with one engine, one ladder truck and a self-contained breathing support unit with nine personnel.

The last fire reported on Main Street was in May of 2003, when the JC Penney store was destroyed, Holloway said.

Written by The Porterville Recorder

Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix