At least six buildings were affected, including the historic Tallulah hotel. No injuries were reported.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. City officials said that a pile of brush being burned behind Main Street on the old cotton mill land is considered a possible cause of the blaze.
Cordova Police Chief Kenneth Bobo said the Tatum Building next to Western Auto was the first to spark around 2:15 p.m. The fire then spread to three adjacent buildings before the hotel across the street went up in flames between 2:45 and 3 p.m.
For a time, there was a concern that the fire might reach the abandoned gas station behind the hotel, especially after it was discovered that there was some fuel in the tanks.
By 4:45 p.m., Bobo said the fire had been contained and there was no fear of it spreading beyond downtown.
However, he added it was likely to reignite throughout the night.
“These are two-story buildings with basements and considering all the debris that’s in there, it’s going to be difficult to extinguish it 100 percent. I think it’s highly likely that we’re going to have more calls on it either tonight or tomorrow,” Bobo said.
Bobo added that the ladder truck that was donated to the city after April 27 and another aerial truck that was purchased likely saved property and may have saved lives.
“The water wouldn’t have reached where they needed it to without those trucks. They would have had to go inside, which obviously would have been a concern because of the possibility of collapse,” Bobo said.
The Cordova and Barney volunteer fire departments were the first to respond to the blaze. Aid was also provided by fire departments from Boldo, Sumiton, Dora, Hay Valley, Parrish and Oakman.
At least 15 trucks and 50 firefighters were on the scene by late afternoon.
Bobo said the heroic actions of the firefighters saved the city’s makeshift police station, which sits on the same alley behind Main Street as the one that was destroyed on April 27.
“Their great efforts saved the station and prevented us from being the victim of another disaster,” Bobo said.
Bobo also expressed his appreciation for the local police departments that came in to help secure the area.
The city had been under a no-burn order after the April 27 tornado, but it was lifted by a vote of the Cordova Council on Sept. 27.