Durham Businesses Destroyed by Downtown Fire
Posted July 22, 1998
DURHAM — A two-alarm fire in downtown Durham has left two businesses in ruins. The blaze broke out around 8:30 Thursday morning. Investigators aren't sure how the fire at EBS Restaurant Equipment and a recording studio started.
EBS occupied the first floor of the building. The Captured Live recording studios were upstairs. Firefighters say that, fortunately, the fire was contained in that one building.
Until they can get into the building, investigators can't begin to search for the fire's cause. Crews have been trying to cool down the building and ensure that the fire is completely out for most of the morning.
The fire at 212 Rigsbee Avenue blocked surrounding roads and threatened other businesses. Flames were reportedly seen shooting out of the three-story building.
Investigators say the building is a total loss.
"It's not so hard to fight [this fire]," said Deputy Durham Fire Chief Bill Bibby. "Once you've got your big area set up and everything, we just out-gun the fire. We hit it from both sides, from the east side and the west side."
No one was injured by the fire, but firefighters battled the heat in addition to the flames themselves. Workers at a post office across the street watched it all happen.
"We were a little concerned about it spreading to our rooftop, because it was extremely hot up on our roof," said an unidentified post office employee. "There is tar where we just fixed the roof, and we didn't want it to burn over here. The firefighters did a really good job of keeping it under control.
"When we got up to our roof [we could see] the flames shooting through the roof about 20 feet. Windows started popping."
Most witnesses said they were shocked at the sight of the building burning Thursday morning.
Nearby businesses were impacted by having the street closed off, but while it sits in the heart of downtown, Rigsbee is a short street and its closure did not cause any major traffic or access problems.
Investigators say it will be at least Friday afternoon before they have any word on a possible cause.
A furniture store next door to the burned business incurred some smoke damage.
Firefighters say the building did have an alarm system, but that the fire station is so close by, the fire was spotted before the alarm could go off. andMJ Ainsley