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Firefighters can't social distance, as every day emergencies still happen

The threat of COVID-19 has changed the way Irving fire keeps tabs on the health of its staff, but you can't social distance when fighting a fire.

IRVING, Texas — The world already felt on fire when the Hightower Salons went up in flames. 

Monday evening, a thick cloud of brown smoke covered the intersection at LBJ Freeway and MacArthur Boulevard. Across the street, stylists who worked there just watched. 

"I’ve been working in this building since it was built, since 2002, so it’s a lot of time spent," said a woman named Dominique, who declined to share her last name. "It’s like a second home."

Fortunately, the building closed on Saturday due to the spreading the novel coronavirus. Otherwise, stylists would have likely been seeing clients when the fire sparked.

"They keep trying to put out the fire but it keeps starting and starting…I mean all of our products are flammable," said Thania Ramierez.

It was a two-alarm test for the Irving Fire Department that burned hot and fast.

"The floors became unstable. They had to pull out and go defensive, and that’s what you’re seeing right now," said Assistant Fire Chief J. Taylor. 

It looked like any other firefight, but there are changes in strategy you can’t see.

"We try to stay apart when we can…it’s just not possible in a situation like this. We have to be together," said Asst. Chief Taylor. "We’re checking our temperatures two or three times a day, checking for signs and symptoms, constantly monitoring our firefighters and paramedics to make sure we’re safe."

Irving fire says the damage was so great, it is unsafe for investigators to enter the building to try and find the source of the fire. 

Before this building burned, it already felt like everything changed. The stylists who thought they were stopping working for some time have now lost all the materials that make up their business. 

They're now leaning on the one thing that hasn't changed. 

"You know, one thing that I have, it’s faith," said a stylist Regina. "We're going to get through this."

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