Large fire burns Downtown Atlanta building - CBS46 News

Large fire burns Downtown Atlanta building

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

A fire at an auto shop filled parts of downtown Atlanta with black smoke Wednesday morning.

It happened at United Transmissions on Marietta Street near the Georgia Dome.

Employees at the shop said they were stunned after seeing flames rip through the old building.

"I was kind of choked up a bit. I just couldn't believe it at first," said long-time employee Mike Lopez.

The business has been a staple on Marietta Street and a piece of history owner Joe Barton said you just can't replace.

"Over 50 years I don't know how many thousands of transmissions I've put in," said Barton.

Smoke from the fire could be seen for blocks. Witnesses said it brought visibility in the area to zero.

Bill Askew saw the fire and called 911.

"It was solid pitch black here on Marietta Street. We had to back out of the parking lot. It was hard to breathe before they got here. I made the call to 911 and told them to get police out here before you have head-on collision," said Askew.

Firefighters attacked the blaze from all sides; in the air and on the ground.

Marietta Street was closed for more than three hours so crews could battle the fire. They dumped gallons and gallons of water on the structure, but the smoke and flames just kept coming, largely because of what was inside.

"We have our basic transmission oil barrels, a bunch of transmissions that are rebuilt and ready to be installed to cars coming into to get fixed. That's probably what's on fire there," said Lopez.

Barton said it's a major tragedy, but his biggest concern isn't the building, the equipment or even his own business.

"The thing that worried me most about the shop was these boys losing their jobs. It's going to be very hard to find jobs. I'm fine, but I just hate it for these people."

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