Sprinkler system, EFD knock down fire at coin laundry

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   A working sprinkler system saved one business -- and possibly other stores -- after a fire broke out in the coin laundry store at the Betsy Town Shopping Center on U.S. Highway 19E Thursday night. There were no injuries.
   The Elizabethton Fire Department responded to the fire after receiving a call at approximately 9:45 p.m. EFD Chief Mike Shouse said the preliminary investigation indicated the fire began in a utility closet inside the laundry and moved up the walls, penetrating the ceiling tiles.
   "The sprinkler system did activate and held the fire down until the fire department got here," said Shouse.
   The Winn-Dixie supermarket located next door to the laundry received minimal smoke damage to the store's rear office. Firemen evacuated the store shortly after arriving on scene.
   "We had them evacuate the building," said Shouse. "We just shut it down to be on the safe side."
   Washing machines inside the building did not sustain damage from the fire although smoke and fire damage was sustained in the ceiling and insulation in the attic, Shouse said.
   Light smoke wafted into the Chopstick restaurant located immediately to the left of the laundry and Little Caesar's located to the left of Chopstick. Firefighters used ventilating fans to draw smoke out of the buildings.
   Employees at Little Caesar's were getting ready to close for the day when the fire occurred.
   "We smelled smoke and these guys came in from the four-lane and said the roof was on fire," said Heather Griffey, an employee at Little Caesar's. "We called 9-1-1 and they told us to get out of the building."