The Russellville City Fire Department responded to The Whitz at 266 E. 4th Street, Russellville at approximately 3:15 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 5 for a fully-involved structure fire. Three fire departments fought the fire for over six hours, pouring 720,000 gallons of water on it but the structure succumbed to flames.

“We arrived on the scene and there was heavy smoke showing,” said Captain O’Brien Pedigo of the Russellville City Fire Department. “Fire was showing from the back of the building so we pulled two lines and started flowing water from the rear of the building to knock it down to see if we could get inside. The fire had advanced too far at that time and was already in the attic. The building had already started collapsing so we went defensive at that time and just started flowing water from the outside trying to protect exposure on both sides of the building.” Mutual aid from Russellville Rural and Auburn Fire Departments arrived on the scene to help with equipment and manpower.

“This was one of the hardest fires I’ve fought,” said Pedigo adding it was an older building that had a lot of additions inside. The codes back when it was built are very different from now. The building is owned by Dewayne and Liz Whittaker and served as an event venue. Pillow Brothers Plumbing once occupied the space.

“Our main objective at the time when we knew the structure would be a total loss, was to keep it from spreading to neighboring buildings,” said the Captain adding they didn’t see anything that could be considered arson or foul play.

Dewayne Whittaker expressed his gratitude to everyone for the many thoughts and prayers given the family during this time and promise to definitely rebuild. “We are hopeful we will be back up and going in the next several months. We look forward to seeing you all again soon.”

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