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‘I thought it was a tornado,’ 4-alarm blaze leaves auto shop in ashes

OKLAHOMA CITY – A four-alarm blaze on the city’s south side has left one man hospitalized and a warehouse as a total loss.

South side residents were looking on as the auto repair shop on Exchange and S. Pennsylvania went up in flames at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters took “defensive positions” to keep the blaze contained.

“They attempted an interior attack on the front side of the building but, a few minutes later, they were pushed out of the building because of the heat and smoke,” said Mike Walker, Oklahoma City Deputy Fire Chief.

Fire officials said the auto shop was obviously full of cars, tires and plastic. Those acted as accelerants to get flames into the old wooden attic and roof structure, leading to huge flames and the total loss of the building at the four-alarm blaze.

Fire officials said the fire started in the auto shop and a man working there ran through the flames across the street to Station  8 to report the blaze. He was treated for smoke inhalation.

Fire officials also made sure the flames did not spread to the old Station 8 building directly west of the fire, which is used for storage.

“We’ve gotten our equipment out of the building and, so far, there has been no damage to the equipment,” Walker said.

Smoke towered to the sky. Onlookers miles away got great looks at the black pillar of smoke.

“To be honest, I thought it was like a tornado at first,” said area resident Alaina. “I see the clouds coming around, then I looked at it and I was like that’s not a tornado. It just surprised me.”