Part of a McGregor business that burned much of Tuesday afternoon was determined a total loss, officials said.
Smoke could be seen for miles as a GAP Roofing Inc. warehouse, 1158 Bunker Road, became fully engulfed in flames about 1:45 p.m. The office building sitting in front of the warehouse remained untouched, however.
Jeffrey Mincy, Coryell Memorial Healthcare System EMS chief, said he expected the fire to burn into Wednesday, with smoke and smoldering debris lasting for several days afterward. By 5:30 p.m. firefighters had already used at least 30,000 gallons of water to contain the fire, and Mincy said he expected the amount to rise to several hundred-thousand gallons by the time the fire is completely extinguished.
“There was asphalt on location, which is an oil-based product, but predominately what’s burning now is this whole warehouse,” Mincy said late Tuesday afternoon.
“What’s burning now is stacked pallets of rolled of paper, so it’s (basically) wood. At this point, there’s not much hazard. We believe all of the petrochemcials have burned off at this point.”
Employees were welding on a ladder when a spark hit the floor, igniting the fire, plant manager Wesley Wisehart said. By the time workers could reach the nearest working fire extinguisher, the blaze was already out of control, Wisehart said. The company has 32 employees and all workers on shift during the blaze were accounted for and none were injured, he said. The business operates 24 hours a day, he said.
“I was up here in the office, and next thing I know, everybody was flying this way,” Wisehart said.
Mincy, however, couldn’t confirm the cause of the fire and said it may take days before it’s determined. He said the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office will likely investigate.
GAP Roofing mixes felt and oil together in the warehouse to make a certain kind of tar paper and that material is highly flammable, Mincy said.
Wisehart said he expects damages to range in the millions of dollars.
Firefighters from the Waco, McGregor, Moody, Coryell City, Oglesby, Gatesville and Turnersville fire departments responded to the commercial fire and were expected to work through the night to keep the situation contained, Mincy said. Paramedics were also on scene as a precaution, he said.
Wisehart said the company had a similar fire in 2001.