Fire burns down National Guard Center: investigation, cleanup underway
February 4, 2010
- Fort Gillem Fire aftermath
- Community Relations
On Jan. 26, firefighters from the Fort Gillem, Forest Park, Clayton County and Morrow fire departments fought to contain a fire at the Georgia Army National Guard Readiness Center (Bldg. 608) on Fort Gillem.
In addition to the main fire, firefighters had to contend throughout the night with hot spots caused by windy weather conditions that spread the fire to adjacent grassy and wooded areas.
Although there were no injuries or fatalities as a result of the blaze and the secondary fires were extinguished with little damage, the approximately 110,000 square-foot center was destroyed as a result of the fire (see photo, left).
Machinery at the site, including construction equipment, such as a one-man lift, a skid steer loader and a mini excavator (see photo, top right) were also demolished in the blaze.
A single wall is all that is left standing of the facility (see photo, middle right), which featured heavy timber framing with tin siding and asphalt roofing. Smoke was still present at the site as of Jan. 29 (see photo, lower right), as well as smoldering embers.
An investigation by the U.S. Army Garrison Directorate of Emergency Services has found the cause of the fire to be accidental, and has attributed the fire to a combination of the dispersion of hot sparks from molten metal that originated when workers used a cutting torch to remove the fire suppression trunk line from a valve traveling from the southern-toward-northern end of the building and a failure to follow fire safety procedures.
Further investigation is still ongoing at higher Army levels. A ground-breaking ceremony had been scheduled for that day to mark the beginning of renovations for the building, which was scheduled to be part of the military enclave remaining after Fort McPherson and part of Fort Gillem are closed based on the Base Realignment and Closure Act.