Firefighters respond to fire at Old Town Mall

An early evening fire in a downtown retail shopping center was quickly extinguished by Lebanon firefighters on Saturday night, Nov. 6.

The Old Town Mall at 743 Main St. was partially occupied at the time of the fire and occupants from two separate businesses escaped unharmed. An employee in one store reported hearing a loud pop come from a store which shares a common wall. He went outside to investigate and noticed interior lights in the Amber Moon clothing store flickering and popping. Shortly afterwards, occupants noticed smoke in the building and called 911.

First arriving units reported smoke filling the main hallway of the building and light smoke pushing from the roof where it intersected with the exterior walls. The Battalion Chief immediately called for a second alarm, which is standard procedure on a working commercial fire, to bring additional resources from neighboring fire departments.

Lebanon responded with 25 personnel on 13 units and received mutual aid from the Albany, Sweet Home, Brownsville and Scio fire departments.

Crews enter the mall through the common hallway.

Division Chief Jason Bolen said crews had to enter the common hallway of the 7,500 square foot structure and determine which of the seven interior occupancies was on fire.

“Our first arriving crews did a great job of quickly locating the fire and getting it knocked down,” Bolen said.

Firefighters were on scene in just over three minutes from the time of dispatch. They had to force entry into the building, and make their way down the smoke-filled hallway to find the seat of the fire within an interior retail store. Once the fire was out crews transitioned to overhaul mode, as firefighters systematically checked the structure for extension of fire and burning hot spots typically found in wall and ceiling spaces. No fire spread was found, and crews used multiple positive pressure fans to evacuate the smoke from the building.

Crews access the roof to check for extension.

As firefighters picked up equipment and left the scene, the Lebanon Fire Investigation Team arrived and began to investigate the scene to determine what caused the blaze.

“Our investigators will take it from here and try to determine the fire’s cause and origin,” Bolen said.

Lebanon’s fire investigation team is made up of career and volunteer firefighters, as well as a few specially trained Lebanon Police Department officers. They are called in when a fire’s cause cannot be easily determined by firefighters on scene. Bolen estimated the damage at roughly $50,000, although that number will likely change as the damage is evaluated by owners and occupants over the coming days.

Due to the age of the building, there were no requirements for automatic fire sprinklers or commercial fire alarm systems, which Bolen noted likely could have helped reduce the damage significantly. There were no injuries to fire personnel, who were on scene for just over two hours.