From the Clarksdale Press Register
By TAYLOR MITCHELL
Sunday afternoon, Paul Capo, Tom McClave and Jake Dickes where traveling from Cleveland to Memphis after spending the weekend instructing members of the Cleveland volunteer fire department. The three men were working for When Things Go Bad, Inc.
Things went bad Sunday afternoon at the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and DeSoto Ave. in Clarksdale.
As they were traveling north on U.S. 61, on the way to their hotel in Memphis where they’d stay the night before flying out Monday, they noticed a tall, dark cloud of smoke they instantly recognized as a building fire that wasn’t getting any better.
“It was turbulent black smoke,” Capo said. “We knew it was still growing rather than a whispy, white smoke, which is what happens when firemen are cooling the fire. We saw the increase of velocity and black denseness.”
The trio of firefighting instructors turned off the highway and followed the smoke to the corner of DeSoto Ave. and Martin Luther King Blvd., where a large fire had broken out inside a storeroom used by The New Beginning Ministry church across DeSoto Ave.
Ward 2 commissioner Ken Murphey was on the scene talking with a Clarksdale firefighter, who said the fire department could use some extra help.
“All of a sudden there were three guys in full firefighting gear running to help out,” Murphey said. “I had no idea where they had come from.”
“These guys just showed up out of the blue,” Clarksdale fire chief Rocky Nabors said. “We were definitely blessed to have them show up when they did.”
“We told them who we were, told them we were full-time firemen and we had our gear with us,” Capo said. “We asked if they needed any assistance. They gave some air packs and we went to work for a couple of hours.”
Capo and Dickes are from Colorado and McClave is from Florida. Their firefighting training company travels to different locations to instruct other firemen on the latest techniques and other information. Capo said it was his fifth time traveling to Cleveland, Miss. to work with their volunteer firefighters.
Their experience and expertise were greatly appreciated by the members of the Clarksdale Fire Department.
“They were a tremendously big help,” Nabors said. “With a fire of that magnitude, the more help you can get, the better.
Clarksdale Fire Department received an emergency call about a fire at approximately noon Sunday at at an old building on the corner of MLK Blvd. and DeSoto Ave. Upon arriving, firefighters found a collapsed roof and a storage room used for full of compressed cardboard boxes, had caught on fire.
“The only way to extinguish piles of compressed boxes like that is to be able to get in between the boxes to get water on the fire and put it out,” Nabors said. “We called public works and requested a front-end loader, which helped tremendously. Without it, we might still be there trying to put the fire out.”
Clarksdale fire department crews, along with the trio of firefighting instructors, spent nearly six hours extinguishing the flames. A tractor from Clarksdale’s public works department was brought in to help break down the piles of compressed boxes that were still smoldering.
“With the front-end loader we were able to have it enter the building and pull the burning boxes outside,” Nabors said. “Then we were able to sort through and break it up.”
Eventually, Capo, McClave and Dickes were able to head on to Memphis where they caught their flights home Monday. But the Clarksdale Fire Department won’t soon forget their help.
“They saw brothers in need of help,” Nabors said. “That’s how we relate to each other, as brothers. We see each other in need and just jump right in. This time it was very needed.”
Capo said he’ll also have fond memories of the Clarksdale fire department.
“They were working hard when we showed up,” Capo said. “They were good firemen. I’m proud to say that I worked beside the Clarksdale Fire Department.”