Firefighters from eastern Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle spent more than 6 hours fighting a blaze near downtown Torrington at a cold storage facility.
Torrington Volunteer Fire Chief Lance Petsch says flames could be seen coming from the roof of Roy’s Cold Storage at the northwest corner of East B Street and East 20th Avenue as firefighters arrived shortly before 7:00 a.m. Saturday.
In addition to response by Torrington Volunteer, mutual aid was requested from units in both Goshen and Scotts Bluff counties. Petsch tells KNEB News about 50 firefighters and 10 units arrived from a number of departments, including Lingle, Yoder, Camp Guernsey and Veteran, as well as from Morrill and Lyman. Petsch says he also requested the tower truck from Scottsbluff in an effort to get water to the center of the facility.
Petsch says firefighters faced a number of challenges as the firefight progressed. Initially, they were able to get on the roof in an effort to vent the fire and knock down the flames, but had to abandon that approach as footing became ‘spongy’. In addition, Petsch says there was cork insulation inside the building contained in bags that would smolder and re-ignite, and would also be carried outside the building as water poured into the structure.
Other emergency calls became an issue as well, with Lingle Fire units having to leave to contend with a grass fire, and Yoder firefighters plus one Torrington unit were redirected to a motor vehicle accident on US Highway 85. Petsch says the manpower situation was somewhat difficult as they had to rotate firefighters to help minimize exhaustion.
Petsch estimated 95percent of the structure would be considered a total loss, likely including a 2nd story apartment above the facility, as the roofing burned completely over two of three sections of the building. He says a garage and cooler area survived the flames, but would have suffered heavy smoke and water damage. Petsch says one adjacent building with a common wall may have suffered some water damage as firefighters worked to prevent the spread of the flames.
The Wyoming State Fire Marshal was called in to investigate and Petsch says a report on the cause will likely take a week or more, but no foul play was suspected.