As flames and smoke billowed from the roof of Custom Pack Incorporated, Biloxi firemen mapped out a strategy to contain the back bay trouble. Two aerial trucks attacked the fire from above. Other firemen battled the 8 a.m. blaze through the front door.
Because of the danger, firemen were warned to "stay close to the walls, try to move in as much as you can." The firefighters walked into the burning building and hosed down its hot spots. "Just got to be careful, try to be safe," one fireman said as he drank some water before going back into the fire.
Emergency crews had to keep the smoke and fire in the office area, because if it spread to the production plant, it may have exploded. According to fire chief David Roberts, "We have a bunch of ammonia" in the plant, "we have settling. I have oxygen tanks inside here. What we've done is cut it off from this other building and just try to contain it in the building where the fire started."
Vicki Bryan was the first person inside Custom Pack who noticed the trouble. When she opened a door, she said, "I saw a lot of smoke coming out of there and some flames."
Bryan and her office mates rounded up Custom Pack's 40 employees and got them out of harm's way.
The shaken and stunned owners of the back bay seafood company said they will rebuild their office complex. According to owner Clay Gutierrez, "I need a track hoe and some bulldozers and a building crew to get it back together. That's about all we can do. We will build it back."
Biloxi firemen spent more than two hours at the corner of Bayview Avenue and Lee Street, battling the Custom Pack fire. A Biloxi fireman twisted his knee while fighting the back bay fire. Medics took him to the hospital for treatment.