Photo courtesy of Amity Wright

AUBURN – Auburn firefighters credited mutual aid and community support following a fire Saturday that destroyed Auburn Auto buildings and threatened a Highway 136 block of commercial buildings.

Firefighters called for help from Peru, Johnson and Nebraska City shortly after receiving the alert to smoke at 6:15 p.m. and arrived to find roof structures already collapsing.



Assistant Fire Chief Chris Jobe said he was told that there were an estimated 1,500 gallons of oil, as well as tires and unleaded fuel, inside the building complex. There were also 11 cars inside. Jobe said the fire was intensely hot. Windshield glass was melting, which is associated with 2,600 degrees or hotter.








Another dozen cars parked around the building were burned, melted or were crushed by falling walls. A classic Oldsmobile Cutlass owned by Roger Henderson was pushed from the building to safety on Central Avenue.

Jobe said the use of two fire hydrants on the block, as well as hydrants near city hall and the Valley View high rise, provided about 900 gallons per minute.

Jobe: “The cars, the oil and the tires amassed a lot of heat. They released a lot of BTUs.”

Firefighters benefited from very little wind and prevented the spread of the fire to the American Dream Real Estate building. Jobe said the building’s ceiling is three feet taller, so the fire had to jump up to get to its roof.

However, the Auburn Auto building next to it had a stack of wires near a back wall, that made it difficult to drown out that heat source.

The state fire marshal’s office was called to investigate the cause of the fire.

Firefighters returned to the building Sunday afternoon after a rekindling.