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Quick response keeps Wallace fire to a minimum

by JOSH MCDONALD
Staff Reporter | September 17, 2020 11:40 PM

WALLACE — Potential disaster was averted on Thursday evening when a fire broke out in one of the front windows of Johnson’s Gems and Collectibles.

Just before 10 p.m., a person was driving down Bank Street when they saw the small blaze in the window of the main floor of the old White & Bender Building that houses Johnson’s Gems at 524 Bank St. in the heart of downtown Wallace, and promptly called 911.

Darius Dustin, with the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office was the first responder on scene and proceeded to break out a window and combat the blaze with a fire extinguisher as crews from Shoshone County Fire District No. 1 made their way to the scene.

District No. 1 Fire Chief Aaron Cagle had no idea the extent of what he and his crew were headed into, but given the tight knit nature of the buildings in the downtown Wallace area his department responded in full force, as well as had crews from Kellogg and Mullan on standby in case they were needed.

Upon arrival, Cagle and his crew finished putting out the fire and then went through the building to make sure that the fire hadn’t spread, as well as to make sure that there was no one inside the building.

According to Cagle, the fire was “very much electrical,” and was caused by multiple cords being plugged into a single outlet.

“This is a good reminder, especially with Christmas time right around the corner, that you should have one thing plugged into one outlet,” Cagle said. “And power strips, power strips are a big one every year. Just because the strip has six outlets doesn’t mean that you should have six things plugged into it.”

No structural damage outside the broken window was reported, but Cagle did say that the building was going to smell like smoke inside for a while.

As far as the quickness and efficiency of his crew’s response, Cagle expects nothing less from his team and realizes that protecting a community such as Wallace, and its historic nature comes with a large burden of responsibility.

“It’s a great thing that we got it out when we did,” Cagle said. “We don’t want to lose any buildings, and especially not a building like this one. When you hear that it’s a building like this, you call everyone, it’s all hands on deck.”

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Photo by JOSH McDONALD

Fire crews work around the area where the fire began inside Johnson's Gems. You can see the scorch marks on the back of the shelf inside the building.