OCALA, FL—An early morning fire occurred in an industrial laundry facility directly across the street from fire station #1 in downtown Ocala. The business, named UniFirst, is a 25,000 square foot two story concrete block building. Twenty-one firefighters with Ocala Fire Rescue responded to the fire alarm at 2:06 a.m. and arrived within one minute to find smoke coming from the south end of the building. Upon entry in thick smoke conditions firefighters discovered that one sprinkler head activated as the system was designed to contain the flames which began in a bin of mop heads. Fire investigator Captain Alan Peters who was called to the scene determined the cause of the fire to be spontaneous combustion. The building valued at $2,000,000 dollars suffered $1,000 in damage; very little fire damage occurred to the contents, however smoke did affect a portion of the clothing and articles inside.
UniFirst management representatives told fire officials that 57 people are employed by the laundry, which is expected to reopen for business in the morning. The last employee to leave the building did so around 9 p.m. last night, and no one was inside at the time the fire started.
Fire Battalion Chief Travis Welter attributed the small dollar fire loss due to the business having a fire sprinkler system, a monitored fire alarm system and a rapid response by firefighters.