By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — As firefighters continued to put out hot spots Monday after a large fire broke out Sunday evening at Hibdon Tires, 221 N. Interstate Drive, the company said they will rebuild in Norman.
Susan Steeno, manager of public relations for Bridgestone Retail Operations, said it is too early to tell whether they will rebuild at that exact site, but they will be doing everything they can to get reconstruction started as soon as possible.
The new store will still be in Norman, wherever that reconstruction takes place, Steeno said.
Eleven employees in the building were in the process of closing for the day when the fire ignited, but all were evacuated, she said. The store had been open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
“Our first priority is the safety of our employees and customers. We are grateful that, at the time of the fire, there were no customers on the premises and all employees were evacuated safely,” a press release stated Monday.
About 25 employees who worked at the location have been relocated and assigned to work at Hibdon Tires Plus at 501 N. Interstate Drive in Norman, as well as other locations throughout the area, the release stated.
The store at 501 N. Interstate Drive also will now be open on Sundays to accommodate customers displaced by the event.
Norman Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said the area around the building is still blocked off as fire crews continue to put out occasional hot spots.
“There were many, many tires that were actually in the second story and the metal roof came down on top of that area,” Bailey said. “There will occasionally be hot spots that pop up here and there until they can actually get the roof off and get down to the (debris). They need to remove the building from around the tire debris.”
Bailey said hazmat crews have begun to clean up the runoff from the fire.
“When the tires melted, it basically turned back into oil. Some of that ran down into storm drains,” he said. “Cleanup crews are in the process of cleaning that runoff from the fire.”
Bailey said the preliminary damage estimates carry a price tag of about $1.75 million.
The structure alone was estimated to be about $1.2 million, and the contents were estimated to be about $500,000.
There was one injury Sunday night when a firefighter slipped and fell while crews were extinguishing the fire, but he was treated and released at the hospital, Bailey said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.