Grants Pass, Ore.- After a former Grants Pass Fire Department building caught on fire today around noon, it is now the focus of a fire investigation.
it went up in flames early this afternoon.
Eyewitnesses told NBC5 News that there may have been people inside the vacant building before the fire started. They saw people being cleared from the building hours before.
One of those eyewitnesses is Viken Nokhoudian. He says he heard a boom while coming out of the parking lot at Safeway. Nokhoudian says the flames covered the building at an alarming speed.
“Within about two minutes the entire building was engulfed in flames,” Nokhoudian says.
Then within minutes he says emergency responder’s got to the scene, but before they got there emergency responder’s in Grants Pass heard news of the fire in an unusual way.
According to Lieutenant Todd Moran of Grants Pass Public Safety, “About noon one of our officers was driving north on 9th street when he was flagged down by a citizen.”
Moran says the fire posed a danger to the nearby structures and the power lines not far above it. They say no one appeared to be inside and that was news that surprised Nokhoudian.
“I had just heard rumors that some people were being removed from the building this morning,” Nokhoudian says.
For now the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Nokhoudian says he has his own theory about what may have caused the flames.
“The fire spread so very quickly that it didn’t seem like just some curtains ignited. There may have been more.”
Later this afternoon following the fire and initial investigation police say that they arrested, 31 year old Brandon Gildard for allegedly starting the fire.
Grants Pass Public Safety says Gildard was known to stay at the G Street location.