Firefighters get ready to spend another night at 1st Ave. S. blaze; investigation delayed

2014-03-22T09:22:00Z 2014-03-23T14:03:04Z Firefighters get ready to spend another night at 1st Ave. S. blaze; investigation delayedNICK BALATSOS The Billings Gazette

Firefighters will remain until Sunday at the scene of a blaze that obliterated three buildings on First Avenue late Friday.

The decision to spend an additional night at the scene comes after a delay, Battalion Chief Terry Larson said. 

Initially, the Billings Fire Department had planned to investigate the fire Saturday, but because they were unable to obtain an excavator, they have to wait another day, Larson said.

He said the excavator will come Sunday.

Meanwhile, First Avenue South will remain closed from South 32nd Street to South 34th Street. Larson expects the road to reopen sometime Sunday afternoon.

The call for the blaze came in around 8 p.m. Friday. The fire originated in a small shed and quickly spread to a larger building and then eventually to the storefront of JP Enterprises Auto Auction and Sales. The fire destroyed multiple cars and personal possessions, the son-in-law of the business owner said.  

Although it may have seemed like wind was a major contributing factor for the spread, Larson said the real culprit was the fact that all the buildings were connected. 

One fire engine was at the scene at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, spraying water through the store's front window.

Larson said that firefighters will probably continue to hose down the rubble into Sunday to eliminate any flames that might be under the surface. 

Crews worked through the night in freezing conditions to extinguish the blaze. Icicles could be seen hanging from power lines in front of the store and from the firemen's hoses.

Small flames could still be seen inside the store as of 12 a.m. Saturday.

The fire is under investigation and a cause has not been determined. Larson expects more information to be available after crews investigate on Sunday.

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