By Mary Meaux
The News staff writer
A decades-old building that until once housed KBTV-Channel 4 was destroyed by fire on Monday, and firefighters were still on scene at 7:30 p.m., five hours after the blaze began.
Surrounding streets were blocked off as five pumpers and a ladder truck responded to the large fire. An additional 10 personnel were also called in to assist, Chief Larry Richard said.
The nearby gas station/convenience store was forced to stop selling gas because of the danger from the fire, a store employee said.
Adrian Arceneaux, who lives across the street from the building, said his neighbor alerted him to the fire. When Arceneaux looked outside smoke was already pouring from a doorway and “built up after that,” he said.
Smoke seeped from the brick structure and roof and at one point a loud boom was heard before a part of the brick facade exploded downward and interior walls collapsed.
Four firefighters were inside when the structure crumbled but were able to get out of the building without injuries, Richard said.
Firefighters outside the building, media and local residents watching the blaze were forced to race out of the way as thick smoke belched from the gaping hole.
An off-duty police officer arrived at the site at 2900 17th St. soon after the firefighters and began to bring ice, water and cold beverages to hydrate the many firefighters when they were able to take breaks.
Dana Melancon, meteorologist at the station, said most of the station’s work is now performed at its Beaumont location but the weather radar was still housed at the Port Arthur location.
Melancon said Sunday was the last day of operations at the building and no personnel were at the Port Arthur location when the fire occurred. While not in active use, the building was used to store equipment.
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