Business owner Toney Putman and other persons were doing repair work in the building when they spotted smoke, and Putman called 911, Taylor said.
The fire, reported at 10:57 a.m., was accidental, but its exact cause remains under investigation, the chief said.
Taylor said the building possibly could be salvaged, noting it had withstood two or three past fires. Its contents sustained “pretty good water damage” throughout the wooden and sheet metal structure, but Putman stated only 8 to 10 spaces in the climate-controlled building were rented, according to Taylor.
Firefighters from the Pritchett, Harmony, Bettie and East Mountain Volunteer Fire Departments, along with a ladder truck from the Longview Fire Department, helped Gilmer firefighters battle the blaze. Taylor said the fire was probably under control at 12:30 p.m., but that firefighters continued battling it till probably 1 or 1:30 p.m..
Nobody was injured, he said.
Detours were set up around a few blocks of U.S. 271 while the blaze was being battled.
Although it was mostly intact after the blaze, the building’s roof was basically destroyed because rafters were burned and only sheet metal was left holding it up, Taylor said.
The aging wooden structure, once a laundromat and located across the highway from Doc’s Hot Links, had been covered in sheet metal externally and internally, and had a sheet metal ceiling and roof, the fire chief said.