Plumes of dark smoke from a fire at Callaghan Tire, 4421 12th St. Court E., could be seen from points all over Bradenton on Thursday afternoon.
The fire was reported to 911 shortly after noon, and when firefighters arrived the building already was engulfed in flames, said Jacob Saur with Manatee County Public Safety. The blaze, which also spread to an adjacent building to the west, was quickly elevated to a five-alarm fire, he said.
Wind gusts of 14 miles per hour fanned the fire as responders from Southern Manatee Fire Rescue battled the flames. Other firefighters from the Bradenton Fire Department, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, Sarasota County and Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue also were on scene.
Students at Rowlett Academy, 3500 Ninth St. E., were reportedly evacuated as smoke billowed over the area. Public safety officials said anyone in the area might suffer respiratory issues because the smoke.
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The vice president of manufacturing and the safety director of Callaghan Tire told the Bradenton Herald that nothing like this has ever happened before. The company was founded in 1978.
The Bradenton location is the independently-owned tire chain's headquarters, with other service centers, plants, tire repair centers and auto centers throughout Florida.
This story will be updated.