In the case of the Sharon Place fire, several key factors played a role.
First came the fire. Then came the destruction Now comes the assessment for Assistant Fire Chief Chad Bennett.
"I think until the building gets torn down, it's going to be a lasting reminder of what happened," Bennett said.
Along with the ash-covered rugs and charred metal is what remains of the building's firewall.
Sharon Place, built to the codes and technology of the 1980's, had only one firewall. It ran down the middle of the shopping center and separated the building in half.
Firewalls aren't designed to stop a fire, Bennett says. They're designed to stop the fire from spreading. The fire prevention tool essentially aims to compartmentalize a potential fire.
However, much like a charred fire extinguisher, the firewall could only do so much.
"This could have been a brand new building and we could have still lost it," Bennett said. "We know we had upwards of 45 minutes to an hour of burning before the fire was reported."
Newer buildings generally have more firewalls in place, oftentimes to separate the attic from the first level. The firewalls are graded on a level of how much time they can compartmentalize the fire.
Sharon Place also didn't have a sprinkler system in place. It wasn't until the last decade sprinkler systems were required for new construction.
Assistant Chief Bennett believes it's not about the age of the building. It's about what was inside. The three-alarm fire fed off the woods and oils and petroleum based products inside Sharon Place.
Ultimately, it came down to time.
"That was the key factor in this fire," Bennett said. "If this fire would have occurred 12 hours sooner or later, it would have only been contained to one half of the building."
By the time the fire was reported in the cold, early morning hours Saturday, it was likely already too late.