The cause and origin of a blaze that destroyed a Cumming business Sunday afternoon remain under investigation.
Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said the fire was reported about 1:21 p.m. at U.S. Auto Sales, 306 Atlanta Road.
He said the first phases of the fire were fought almost exclusively by firefighters from neighboring counties, who came to assist while many local units attended a funeral for Mark Aycock.
The 42-year-old Forsyth firefighter died Feb. 7 following a two-year battle with cancer.
Shivers said no injuries were reported in the blaze, but 23 vehicles were either damaged or destroyed. The weather was a factor in the fire.
"We’re equipped and trained to operate in cold weather … but the wind certainly helped the fire spread and the rapid progression through the building," said Shivers, adding that the structure was engulfed in flames when the first unit arrived.
Winds over the weekend reached 25 mph at times, thanks to an arctic cold front that moved through the area.
"Between the building and Bald Ridge Road, there was a significant amount of brush that burned as well," Shivers said.
Property tax records indicate the business is owned by Thomas Troncalli of Stone Mountain. Attempts to reach him for comment were not successful.
Shivers expressed gratitude for the help from other departments.
"We couldn’t have done it without them and are extremely grateful for their assistance," he said.
Shivers explained that the local fire department participates in a mutual aid agreement, often working alongside departments from neighboring counties and nearby cities.
"We provide mutual aid for them and they provide mutual aid for us," he said. "It’s a common occurrence, especially during times of heavy call volumes or storm.
"So the exact same scenario played out [Sunday] because of the funeral for Mark Aycock. We had pre-planned to have our stations covered by mutual aid departments providing services to us."
Shivers said firefighters and equipment were sent from Cherokee, Dawson, Gwinnett and Hall counties, as well as Johns Creek and Alpharetta, to fully staff six local stations while firefighters attended Aycock’s funeral.
In addition, he said Lumpkin County sent an engine to one of the stations during the blaze as a precaution.
Shivers noted that a Forsyth battalion chief, who was on duty, was one of the first at the scene.
He said two local fire engines left the funeral procession, which was heading to a memorial service at Mary Alice Park, to relieve some of those who had been battling the blaze.
Forsyth firefighters conducted the overhaul and salvage portion of the operation at the dealership.