A two-alarm fire that burned for hours early Tuesday reduced a warehouse that was home to several Lexington businesses to a pile of charred wood and twisted metal.
No injuries were reported.
At 12:37 a.m., someone called 911 to report that two vehicles were on fire about 10 feet from the building at 738 Price Avenue, about two blocks north of Transylvania University.
The building — a 120-by-80-foot metal warehouse — housed "four or five businesses," including roofers, auto shops and an online bookseller, said property owner Don Cook.
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One of the businesses bought junk cars and sold them for scrap metal. A man working late at night was "taking parts off a car" when the fire started, fire department Battalion Chief Marshall Griggs said.
Fire investigators determined that the man was removing the car's gas tank when the tank began to leak fuel. The gasoline was ignited by a nearby halogen lamp, Griggs said.
By the time firefighters arrived, about four minutes later, the fire had spread to the warehouse.
Marc Dolphin, who lives several houses down from the warehouse, said he heard the fire ignite from inside his bedroom.
Some neighbors described it as an explosion. Dolphin said he heard a "whoomph," like "if you poured gasoline in a bucket and set it on fire, but real loud."
From his front porch, Dolphin said he could see the orange glow of flames from behind the building. He told his girlfriend to call the fire department and ran across the street to help an elderly neighbor out of his home.
When the fire department arrived, flames had crept to the front of the warehouse, Dolpin said.
The man who was working on the car got two relatives out safely and told firefighters nobody else was inside, Griggs said. Firefighters battled the fire from outside rather than risk going inside the building, which was burning hot and fast.
"We got reports that there was no one inside, so we made this a defensive attack," he said.
The fire had grown so large by 12:55 a.m. that the fire department called in a second company of firefighters and asked Kentucky American Water to increase water pressure to fire hydrants in the neighborhood, Griggs said.
Brian Washington, who lives four houses away from the warehouse, said the fire was so intense he could feel the heat from his front porch.
The heat melted the siding on a neighboring home, but fire damage was limited to the warehouse and vehicles, Griggs said.
The blaze was under control by 3 a.m., but firefighters were hosing down hot spots as late as 10 a.m. One fire truck remained late Tuesday afternoon as firefighters monitored the property.
The fire was fueled by some of the items stored in the building, including wood and books, Griggs said.