GE fire keeps burning; shelter-in-place order lifted

Six alarm fire shocks employees, ash spreads for miles
Published: Apr. 3, 2015 at 11:18 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2015 at 5:31 PM EDT
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A GE employee snapped this photo of the fire just as it started inside Building 6. (Source:...
A GE employee snapped this photo of the fire just as it started inside Building 6. (Source: Anonymous employee)
Smoke can be seen from a distance. (Source: Rick Miller, WAVE 3 News)
Smoke can be seen from a distance. (Source: Rick Miller, WAVE 3 News)
Jefferson County Fire Service Spokesperson Chief Kevin Tyler said his crews will be at the...
Jefferson County Fire Service Spokesperson Chief Kevin Tyler said his crews will be at the scene for a long time. (Source: Katie Bauer/WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Officials lifted a shelter-in-place order for the area surrounding GE Appliance Park on Sunday afternoon, two days after a large blaze consumed a building at the facility.

The massive, six-alarm fire at GE Appliance Park's Building 6 has been contained, but firefighters continue to battle some flames more than 48 hours later.

"The key thing right now is using heavy machinery to get to the hot spots behind us," said Okalona Fire Chief Chris Gosnell said on Saturday as 60 firefighters were still on the scene..

Once there is a pathway to inside of the building, arson investigators will be able to go in and try to find the cause of the fire. The fire is believed to have started in the southwest part of the building.

"I mean it's pretty much total destruction in 90 percent of the building," said Major Henry Ott with the arson unit. "We've done countless interviews it's really just about clearing this out and getting into the scene."

A GE spokeswoman said that only those employees specifically authorized by their manager will be allowed to return on Monday. All other employees will not be permitted on the property until further notice.

[IMAGES: Fire destroys building at GE Appliance Park]

Building 6 houses production parts and distribution offices, among other things. It's not clear what the production parts are used to make.

(Watch time-lapse video of the fire shared by JohnBen Lacy below. Music by Bookshelf. Tap here to view on mobile)

Numerous fire companies -- approximately 200 firefighters in all -- responded to the blaze that was first reported at about 7:30 a.m on Friday.

GE Appliance Park employees, like Bruce Martin, couldn't help but just stop and stare.

[OTHER NEWS: AREAS TO AVOID because of flooding, water rescues]

"This is just unbelievable," Martin said. "Really is, it is kind of shock."

It even left retired firefighter Donnie Burns in disbelief.

"This has been the biggest one I've seen," he said.

"We walked outside, you could just begin to see the flames then over a period of time the whole thing was engulfed," President of OPC Services Donnie Blake said.

Blake had a front row seat. His business is right across the street.

"Looks like they may have it under control now, you don't see nearly as much flames as you did this morning," Blake said. "We've heard multiple explosions."

There were reports that residents in the area saw lightning in the area before the fire. Jefferson County Fire Service spokesman Chief Kevin Tyler said that is a possible cause. While trying to get the blaze under control, they ran into some issues.

"The problem we are running into is we have low water pressure on the premises," said Tyler. "GE actually has been working over the last several months to work on their water supply."

Tyler also says the rain did not help the situation.

"All it does is hamper our conditions that we have and keep the smoke down and the visibility goes down outside our building," Tyler said.

Tyler said his crews will be working long hours ahead.

"We'll be here overnight and into tomorrow," he told reporters at about noon Friday, adding that firefighters might need to work quickly as well. "The problem is we're going to have another weather front and the winds are going to pick up. Those winds are going to be a concern."

On a normal day, there may be 30 to 50 employees inside the building.

Marshall Young was thankful because Building 6 is the one he works in.

"Thank God," Young said. "This is really, really heartbreaking, but in the meantime I'm so thankful."

Like Young, the majority of employees were on a company holiday. Those that did come in all got out safe.

"We are really deep in a project right now and we are really trying to work really hard and push this product that we are working on right now," said Young.

No injuries were reported in the blaze. As for the building, "Building 6 is probably going to be a complete loss," Tyler said.

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