DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - A problem with the air conditioning system is to blame for a massive fire in Denham Springs.
The blaze happened at Magnolia Medical Supply on Florida Boulevard on February 3.
Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning said investigators had a difficult time identifying the cause of the fire because of the extensive damage.
"We felt that the fire originated in the heating and air conditioning system," Browning said. "That's our belief. We believe it was accidental. We can say that the point of origin was absolutely in the heating and air conditioning ducts."
Three oxygen tanks exploded during the fire, which increased the flames, eventually causing the building to collapse.
The owner of the building said around lunch time, an employee at the medical supply store called him and told him they saw smoke coming through the air vents.
"She had already gotten out of the building," said Harold Davidson. "She has one customer and one employee."
The Denham Springs fire chief said when firefighters got on the scene they went inside the building and removed 50 to 60 oxygen tanks, but there were a few left inside.
"I think you might have heard four of five blow up earlier," said Melvin Wheat.
Those explosions happened before the roof collapsed. The roadway between Range Avenue and Pete's Highway was also shut down for at least two hours, while fire crews tried to contain the flames.
Huge plumes of smoke were visible in the area.
"It got bad quick," said Davidson. "Within 15 to 20 minutes it was bad."
Fire crews from Central, Eastside and Denham Springs assisted with putting out the fire.
Chief Wheat said this was not the largest fire he's ever seen, but it was one of the more difficult to handle. He says normally they go in and knock a fire down and then move on to protect the surrounding structures. But, that did not happen this time. He said the building had another roof top, which created a problem.
"From what we can tell, the fire got in between two separate roofs in here and you couldn't really get to the fire." He added the way the different businesses were set up inside, structurally it was like a maze. One brick wall and three separate walls with maybe a window to get into that room. Problems."
No injuries were reported.
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