Firefighters were on the scene of a blaze on Columbia Avenue into 
the early morning hours Saturday, February 8.
    The former Stringer Equipment Building, located on the corner of 
Columbia Avenue and Second Street, sustained heavy damage in the fire.
    Monticello Fire Chief Steve Ferrell said the fire originated in the 
upstairs apartment located at the back of the building. That was the 
only portion of the building that was occupied, but no one was 
injured in the fire.
    He said the shop area, which is on the first floor of the building, 
was vacant at the time of the blaze.
    The fire department was notified of the fire at approximately 6:30 
p.m. on Friday, February 7. Ferrell said the upstairs apartment was 
fully engulfed in flames when the fire department arrived at the scene.
    Members of the Susie Fire Department responded to assist at the 
scene, bringing an engine and several personnel.
    Ferrell said that getting access to the second story of the 
building, where the fire was concentrated, was a challenge to 
firefighters.
    The aerial truck was used to battle the blaze, and he added that 
there was a good water source at the scene.
    Another problem the department dealt with was ice forming on the 
mortar of the building and creating falling cinder blocks that could 
be a hazard to firefighters.
    The department was on the scene until approximately 1 a.m.
    Ferrell said they went back to the scene a couple of times on 
Saturday to deal with hot spots.
    He expressed his appreciation to everyone who helped at the scene, 
including police, deputies and members of the rescue squad who helped 
shut down access to Columbia Avenue.
    Wayne County EMS stood by throughout the evening in support of the firefighters.

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