The Lebanon Walmart Superstore was evacuated Tuesday afternoon after a fire caused extensive smoke and water damage to the store.
Several businesses to the north had to be evacuated and a couple of city streets were closed, to protect citizens from the toxic smoke.
Gordon Sletmoe, chief of the Lebanon Fire District, said the call came in at 12:47 p.m. The fire began in the section of the store where swimming pool supplies, including chemicals for pool cleaning, are stocked.
"Shoppers in the store noticed the fire. They alerted the store staff and the store staff immediately began evacuating the store," Sletmoe said. "The fire grew to the point that it activated one sprinkler head directly over the fire. Ultimately, the sprinkler nearly completely extinguished the fire."
Sletmoe praised the Walmart staff for their handling of the evacuation.
"When we got there, the store was totally evacuated. The Walmart employees did a great job of that," he said.
Upon their arrival, Lebanon firefighters did some final extinguishment of the fire. Because of the size of the store and the amount of smoke, a second alarm was called, which brought additional resources to the site.
Based on their information that the fire began in an area with numerous chemicals nearby, the Linn-Benton HazMat team was also activated.
In all, 11 units with approximately 40 personnel responded. Albany and Sweet Home sent units to assist the Lebanon Fire District. The Lebanon Police Department and the Oregon State Police assisted with securing the perimeter of the property during the response.
The fire damage was limited to the aisle where the fire started, Sletmoe said. The water and smoke damage, however, was much more severe. According to the Lebanon Police Department, the store was to be closed overnight.
"There was an extensive amount of water throughout the store because the sprinklers operated for quite some time. And the entire store, from front to back, side to side, ceiling to floor, really was full of smoke," Sletmoe said. "I believe that ultimately there's a lot of product damage."
No injuries were reported to customers, employees or firefighters.
Investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire.
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