Scott Taylor was teary-eyed when he spoke of the bravery shown by first responders and utility personnel in action after his family-owned store, Taylor’s Furniture, burst into flames early Sunday morning.
Taylor said he waited on the curb three disheartening hours as they worked on the building at 4559 S. Western St. But, the job they did was also inspiring.
“I’ve never been up close to fire and watched emergency responders — the firemen, the Xcel people and the Atmos (Energy) people work — they are all great people, just fantastic people; I want to repeat that over and over,” he said. “They had all kinds of issues getting into the building. They had guys hanging off of ladders, men running in and out, what looked to me like almost a 9/11 scene of tired and worn out firefighters with black all around their faces. I thanked every one of them.
“I love those guys … I got to see an extraordinary effort and they saved my store.”
Taylor was out of town when he was first alerted to movement in the store by a security company just before noon Sunday. Shortly thereafter, his accountant happened to be driving by the business, witnessed the first responders on scene and called him.
It took 30 firefighters in nine units about four hours to bring under control the fire that began on the second story in the southeast corner of the building, according to the Amarillo Fire Department. According to a press release from AFD Capt. Larry Davis, the roof of the building started falling in as crews battled the blaze.
Firefighters contained the blaze to just 1,000 square feet of the 15,000-square-foot facility.
Most of the damage was limited to seldom-used office space upstairs, which Taylor said will not be rebuilt. Instead, staff will clean the area, wall it off and use it as a stockroom.
“It’s not as bad as it appeared to be,” Taylor said. “There were some reports on Facebook that it’s half a million dollars worth of damage — it’s not. We’re wounded but we’re only going to be wounded for a week. Hopefully on Monday, we’ll have a smoke blow out (liquidation) sale.”
Taylor said smoke caused “light damage” to the furniture. They also lost their computers, but not the information on them, as they host their data remotely.
“That was probably the best thing we’ve done to save ourselves,” he said of hosting years and thousands of customers’ information offsite.
Taylor said he was asked by firefighters if he’d left anything plugged in at the furniture store. The culprit is believed to be a “lunchbox-sized air purifier” that Taylor said sat on the carpet plugged in next to his desk in an office he didn’t use.
“The fire marshal said it had to have been one little thing plugged in up there,” Taylor said. “That was the only thing that was plugged in, so we’re assuming possibly Friday night, when we had all of those power surges from the lightning, that could have been the beginning of the melt down of that little machine and it smoldered long enough until it caught fire.
“You can’t believe that a little air purifier that had been up there … plugged in for 15 years — you do everything to keep your building safe and your eyes open and that one little thing gets you.”
Taylor said there were no signs of smoke or fire at the end of business day Saturday afternoon.
Taylor’s Furniture Gallery began eponymously as V.L. Taylor &Co. in 1946 by Scott’s grandfather. In 1976, his father Stanley assumed control and in 2006 Scott and his brother Stuart took over the family business.
“We’ve got a long-term history of dealing with the fine folks of Amarillo,” Scott Taylor said. “I can’t tell you how many … offers of help I’ve gotten. The man who mows my yard at my house (even) offered to send two of his guys over to help us remove stuff. This isn’t Dallas or San Antonio where nobody would (care).”