Equipment and personnel from five Union County fire departments spent all day Friday, January 5, fighting a massive fire at American Furniture in Ecru. The main role of the Union County volunteer fire departments in battling the Ecru fire was in shuttling water to the fire. Fire officials estimated that more than 3-million gallons of water were used in extinguishing the blaze.
Pontotoc County public safety officials said about half of the massive L-shaped American Furniture building was destroyed by the fire that sent thick black smoke billowing hundreds of feet into the cold, clear air. Local temperatures were reported to be about 15 degrees F when the fire was discovered around 7 a.m.
Union County Fire Coordinator Steve Coker dispatched tanker trucks from Union County when the request for assistance was received from Pontotoc County Fire Coordinator, Adam Patton, sometime before 7:30 a.m. At first Coker sent tanker trucks from the Southeast, Ingomar, and Center fire departments, but tanker trucks from the Union County Northeast and West Union fire departments were dispatched to the scene a short time later.
The tanker trucks from Union County have a capacity from 2,000 to 3,500 gallons of water. They arrived with full tanks, and, when those tanks were emptied, tanker trucks shuttled water from the nearby Ashley manufacturing facility. Close by rural water associations could not supply enough water, so some tankers had to travel as far as Pontotoc to refill with water.
In addition to help from Union County fire companies, Pontotoc fire fighters received help from several other nearby counties including equipment and personnel from Calhoun and Chickasaw counties. One tanker truck from the Chickenbone Fire Department of Calhoun County had a capacity of 5,000 gallons of water.
Besides the three million gallons of water used to bring the Ecru fire under control, large excavators were brought in to tear away breezeways in the building to create fire breaks.
The fire was brought under control around 3:30 p.m., and fire companies remained after that to pour water on remaining “hot spots.”
Ten years ago next month — February, 2008 — the American Furniture facility had another devastating fire. Fire personnel present at both fires said the fire this year actually may have caused less damage than the one ten years ago.
Fire fighting on any blaze, especially one of this huge scale, is dangerous work. While several dozen fire fighters from several counties were exhausted by the end of the day, there was no loss of life and no injuries. Local fire officials expressed relief and thankfulness that there were no injuries.
Photographs for this story were provided to nanewsweb.com from photos taken by firefighters with cell phones.