By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

A massive fire that destroyed the old tobacco warehouse on White Oak Street interrupted what had been a peaceful Saturday afternoon in Hartsville.

Around 2:30 p.m., the Hartsville/Trousdale Volunteer Fire Department responded to calls of a blaze at the abandoned building, which is widely known to be used as a shelter by some of the homeless community in Hartsville.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Members of the Volunteer Fire Department work to put out a fire Saturday that consumes the old tobacco warehouse on White Oak Street.

Trousdale EMS also responded to the scene, but sheriff’s officials told The Vidette it was believed that no one was in the building when the conflagration started. However, one spectator said they thought they had seen someone fleeing the building after the fire got started.

The flames melted nearby power lines and destroyed a nearby transformer, causing temporary power outages as far away as River Street and Cemetery Lane.

Sheriff Ray Russell told The Vidette that the building had been quarantined recently after inhabitants were caught allegedly making methamphetamine. Russell added that two people had been arrested Friday evening after being caught on scene. Their names were not immediately available.

As of 4:45 p.m., fire crews were still on the scene working to douse the flames. The Water Department had also sent out a backhoe to assist in demolishing the twisted steel remains of the building.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol responded to assist with road closures along White Oak from Broadway to Damascus. That stretch of road was expected to be closed until into the evening, perhaps overnight.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.