Fire erupts at Midnite Oil gas station in Ooltewah Thursday morning

Image: NewsChannel 9 SkyCam

UPDATE: The owner of Midnight Oil in Ooltewah says they were draining a gas tank when the fumes caught fire and spread fast.

Firefighters rushed through traffic to get to the scene off Lee Highway around 10:30 Thursday morning.

"I guess the fumes were too much and we aren't sure what ignited it but there was a boom," Steve Ray said.

A boom followed by fast moving flames, which eventually lead to a thick cloud of smoke billowing into the air.

"I've never seen anything so ferocious, it was like it had a life of its own."

Bruce Garner with the Chattanooga Fire Department says firefighters worked together to put the main fire out in about 15 minutes, then started working the hot spots.

"It could have been a lot worse," Garner said. The fire could have spread and consumed the entire business they had, but the Tri-Community firefighters got here very quickly."

"Firefighters did a tremendous job," Ray said. "They were here so quick and they saved this whole business."

Steve's been in business for 35 years and is anxious to get things back up and running.

"It's my life, I've been here since 1983 it's what we do. This is a set back but we will rebuild," Ray said. "We've got insurance and we will operate just fine until we get it rebuilt, and it will be bigger and better than ever."

He's already planning a way to show his appreciation to the first responders.

"When this is all said and done they can expect a big barbecue throw down in their future."

Garner says the haz-mat team was called in to help clean up petroleum products that had leaked out during the fire.

Steve is hoping to be back open by Saturday. There's about $300,000 in damage.

Steve says recently he's been repairing cars with a similar issue of having water in the gas tank.

A woman contacted us saying her car had bad gas and was just repaired by Steve's business.

She bought her gas from a different Midnite Oil location on Bonny Oaks Drive.

She says the owner of that station paid for the repairs.

PREVIOUS: Fire crews responded to a fire at the Midnite Oil gas station in Ooltewah Thursday morning, just off of Exit 11 of I-75. The fire is now out.

Viewer Brian Smith shared video of the scene:

We have a crew on the scene and streaming live from the scene on Facebook:

Tri-Community Volunteer firefighters arrived on scene first to find heavy fire and smoke coming from the rear of the structure. Chattanooga firefighters and the Hazmat team were also called.

The Chattanooga Fire Department (CFD) says the fire was put out quickly, and no one was hurt.

CFD spokesman Bruce Garner says the fire was contained to the shop area, sparing the building and gas pumps.

Garner says the fire caused an estimated $300,000 in damage, but the firefighters' quick work saved a 35-year-old business worth $1.5 million.

Owner Steve Ray says his employees were trying to drain a line that had both gasoline and water in it, something they have done many times before. Ray told firefighters the fumes "found an ignition source," and caught fire. Ray and his employees tried to put the fire out themselves while waiting for fire crews to arrive, but it proved too much for them.

Mr. Ray took the damage from the fire in stride. "I'm just glad no one got hurt," said Ray. "I have insurance and things can be replaced."

A fire investigator says the cause of the fire seems to be accidental, but what sparked the blaze is still under investigation.

Viewers Hunner Mueller and his wife were driving down Highway 64 when they saw the smoke rising from Midnite Oil:

Viewer Chris Cotter sent us photos of the scene by his son-in-law Trey Smith:

More videos from viewer Shari McQuistan:

Owner Steve Ray says he plans to throw a barbecue for all of the firefighters.

Depend on us for updates as we get them.

If you have pictures or videos of this breaking news, please upload them to our online gallery.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off