Flames and thick clouds of black smoke engulfed an old thrift shop in Level Plains on June 9, 2016.

“This morning I came by. I saw some smoke. I thought something was burning in the back, and half an hour later, all hell broke loose,” said Jesus Soto, who witnessed the fire.

Emergency crews arrived at the scene around 9 a.m.

“We don’t know how it started. We got called, and there was smoke and flames already visible at the time we arrived on the scene. No one was here at the time, and because of the extensive damage, we probably won’t ever know, but once we get it out, we will investigate,” said Level Plains Fire Chief Jamie Gatlin.

Several explosions occurred as crews worked to put out the fire.

“There’s still a whole lot of contents in it, and that’s why we couldn’t make entry, because of the congestion inside. It’s too dangerous for our guys,” said Gatlin.

“We have a lot of help from Enterprise, Daleville and the Dale County Fire Association, and we really appreciate their help,” said Mayor Bruce Grantham.

The thrift shop owner, Rayford Jinright, said this is a tough blow, after losing his home in a fire, a trailer in the Elba Christmas flood, and now, a business.

“It was closed at the time of the fire, and he was in the process of getting it cleaned up and things straightened up around here. I don’t know how long it’s been here, but I know it’s a big loss for him,” Grantham said.

Family and friends were there for support as crews battled the fire for several hours.

More than three hours later, crews were able to extinguish the flames, but they expect smoldering to last a few days. The investigation into the cause of the fire continues.