Fire Department, State Fire Marshal Investigating Book Mine Fire

Dec 15, 2017

The remains of the Book Mine, on Gaines Street in College Town. 12/15/17
Credit LHatter / WFSU News

The Book Mine store on Gaines Street is no more. The building burned down Thursday resulting in a total loss. Both the Tallahassee Fire Department and the state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire.

Book Mine employee Tim Laughlin says he was the only person inside of the store when the fire broke out. Laughlin says he heard the sound of the front door chime as he was emerging from the bathroom. There was the sound of breaking glass, and then he says, an explosion.

“There was nothing I could do so I ran to the back, opened the garage door, ran out the back," Laughlin said. "There was two college kids walking down the sidewalk I said ‘call 911!’, and by the time they called 911, it was flaming out the back.”

A Tallahassee Fire Department investigator says the state fire marshal gets involved in circumstances such as arson, a high magnitude loss or if it involves a high-profile person or building. The Book Mine was a world war two-era pre-fab building made of corrugated steel in the shape of a half-circle. It dates back to the late 1940’s and was likely purchased as military surplus from Tallahassee’s former Dale Mabry Air base.

The store was one of the last few locally-owned businesses remaining in the College Town area of Gaines Street, where developers have built mixed-use buildings.