NORMAN — Large plumes of black smoke rolled out of Hibdon Tires on North Interstate Drive on Sunday evening as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames that consumed the building.
The fire was called in at 5:44 p.m. and was fully involved when firefighters arrived on scene. Norman Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said it was probably one of the biggest commercial fires they’ve responded to in Norman this year.
Sprinkles of water and ash rained down around the area. Onlookers gathered in large groups around Travelodge, a nearby motel, and near Walmart’s parking lot to watch the five firefighter units battle the blaze.
Firefighters could be seen lined up and kneeling down with fire hoses and on top of fire trucks around the building as they fought to control the fire, which took about an hour, Bailey said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
“I started crying because I have this habit of leaving my stove on and I thought it was my apartment. I said ‘Oh my god, did I leave my stove on again?’” said Jane Allen, a Norman resident watching the fire.
Allen said she was coming back from McDonald’s on Robinson Street when she saw the big, black clouds of smoke towering over the area.
Others arrived just after firefighters to watch the fire. When Paige Summers and her boyfriend, Joseph Marshall, heard there was a fire they jumped in their truck and drove to a nearby parking lot.
Summer said they were there shortly before police arrived. The two continued to stick around even when the fire and smoke began to dissipate.
Bailey said he believed an employee at Hibdon Tires was one of the first to call the fire into dispatch.
Travelodge was evacuated initially but guests were allowed back in around 7:40 p.m.
Police shut down traffic on North Interstate Drive from Main Street to Boardwalk and worked the scene to keep people from getting too close. OG&E was also on scene to assist with electrical issues.