Alvin's Island fire in Destin: 'It’s a total loss, it’s gutted,' fire chief says
DESTIN — After battling a fire for more than six hours that destroyed Alvin’s Island on Thursday, firefighters were back Friday morning putting out hot spots.
"With a building of that size and the contents it had in it, it’s not unusual for us to have to go back,” Destin Fire Chief Kevin Sasser said Friday morning.
Alvin’s Island store No. 11 across from SunDestin Condominiums had been selling T-shirts, swimwear and more for more than four decades.
“This morning gives them (firefighters) a fresh perspective” to see things that might have been covered and smoldering, Sasser said.
Firefighters received fire alarm calls from Alvin's Island at 2:57 p.m. Thursday, Sasser said.
Crews from five departments responded to the three-alarm fire: Destin, Okaloosa Island, North Bay, South Walton and Fort Walton Beach.
“That’s who was actually on the fire,” Sasser said.
The Ocean City-Wright Fire Control District also sent a truck to cover the west side of Destin and East Niceville responded to cover the east side of town while the departments were a the fire.
Four employees and several customers were in the store when the alarm sounded, Sasser said.
“One of the customers was continuing to try and check out while the alarm went off,” Sasser said. “There was no fire presence. You couldn’t see it, but the alarm was going off."
The employees were able to usher out the customers and no one was injured. For the first hour, smoke billowed from the building and filled the sky.
A little after 4 p.m., flames began to burst through the front of the building, with glass popping and breaking.
“It was looking for oxygen, and when it found it … it lit off,” Sasser said of the blaze.
Firefighters poured on water from hoses on the ground and from ladder trucks. The T-shirt rack out front of the store burned for more than an hour.
Sasser said the fire started in the back of the storage area upstairs.
“We believe it was electrical,” he said.
A fire marshal investigated the building and found no indication of arson.
“We came to the conclusion that it was electrical,” Sasser said.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve had one this big,” Sasser said of the fire. “We’ve had others but it’s been awhile.
“The building is going to have to be torn down. It’s a total loss. It’s gutted,” he added.