BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, FIREFIGHTERS needed two hours to bring a major fire under control in the downtown area Friday.The fire was in a vacant 3-story commercial structure and had apparently been burning for quite a while until it was discovered and reported around 11:40 am.
Birmingham Business Journal
The building had been vacant for many years, so the integrity of the masonry was dubious. The FD went into defensive operations right away while evacuating a couple of apartment buildings next door.
The citizens in the area all commented on the heavy smoke coming from the building and there were reports of it being seen from ten miles away. During the operations the roof collapsed and that was followed by a partial wall collapse. After the fire was knocked down, a large backhoe was brought in and demolished the building while the fire crews hit the hot spots.
FORT WAYNE, INDIANA, FIREFIGHTERS are on the scene of a large commercial fire in a shopping center. At least three businesses are known to be destroyed and some others will have at least some damage to them.
The alarm was dispatched just after 5 am this morning (Tuesday) and the arriving units found heavy fire showing at a wine and beer store. The fire was already spreading to neighboring businesses and operations were set up to contain and knock down the fire.
IN WHAT HAS BEEN AN ALL-TOO common occurence, and illegally constructed retail building in Kolkata, India, burned Wednesday morning killing at least 20 people who lived in the shops.
The seven-story building housed hundreds of shops that are typically occupied at night by shop workers, laborers and ricksha pullers. At night the building is locked up by the owner to prevent burglaries and secured with iron grills over the windows and iron gates in the entrances.
The Hindu / pti
When the fire broke out just before 4 am the 26 fire engines responding were delayed by the crowded and narrow street and then further hindered by the security bars over the windows.
Update, 6 am Central Wednesday: Injury report revised to approx. 16 with 3 critical. Two people still missing. Scroll down for recent additions to this report. Also more videos added.
Update #2, 10:30 am Central: One person remains missing, believed in rubble. Heavy snow storm moving in. Scroll down.
Update #3, 1:30 pm Central: Final missing victim found. Mayor James announced this afternoon that a body was retrieved from the rubble in the bar area of the southwest corner of the building. He was not able to disclose the sex of the victim, but it is known that the only person believed to be missing was a female server who worked in the restaurant. Mayor James made the announcement along with an update on the injury report in this video:
A LARGE, 4-ALARM FIRE IN A KANSAS CITY, Missouri, upscale neighborhood Tuesday evening completely destroyed a large restaurant and heavily damaged several other buildings.
The fire began around 6 pm Central following the ka-boom just outside JJ's Restaurant in the Country Club Plaza area of downtown Kansas City. People in and around the restaurant smelled gas and the management immediately evacuated the restaurant, probably saving several lives by doing so. As the patrons were being escorted out, the employees were rapidly shutting down all appliances in the kitchen when it went off.
At the time of this posting, at least 20 known injuries had been taken to hospitals, both by ambulance and self-transportation. Two people are reported in critical condition.
The fire spread to exposures causing more damage, but they appear to be mostly concrete structures limiting the penetration.
KCTV has some good aerial footage of the fire at its peak:
Viewing the live-stream coverage, it was seen that the FD had the fire knocked down by 9 pm. The restaurant itself is completely consumed.
Google Street View of the Restaurant
Cadaver dogs are on the scene to check the entire restaurant rubble after the debris cools enough to permit them to enter.
KCTV has a 20-image photo gallery HERE.
KSHB-TV has additional videos photos with links to more articles HERE.
Update, 6 am Central Wednesday:
Fire-Rescue are still searching for two people, believed to be restaurant employees, that are still unaccounted for. A message went out that one of them was in a hospital, but they have not been able to verify that. All casualty numbers are still approximate and liable to be adjusted.
The area had already been restricted due to construction work in the street earlier Tuesday. Many witnesses are telling the press that they had called the gas company an hour or more before the blast to report a strong smell of gas in the area. KCTV is reporting this morning:
Missouri Gas & Energy owns and operates the natural gas distribution line servicing the area. The utility company had a crew in the area working after receiving reports of a strong smell of gas about an hour before the explosion. About 30 minutes before the explosion, gas crews asked those in a nearby building to evacuate. The status of the MGE employees and contractors was unclear Tuesday night.
The owner of the restaurant, Jimmy Frantze, told KCTV5's Stacey Cameron that he was en route from Oklahoma. His brother at the scene told him that a crew was digging for fiber optics to a new hotel on the Plaza when they struck a gas line.
Frantze said JJ's "literally exploded." He said four of his employees were critically injured and one employee had been unaccounted for. A wall in the kitchen collapsed, injuring several seriously. The gas crews had blocked off areas, meaning fewer people were enjoying happy hour at JJ's than normal.
KCTV5's Dave Eckert was about a block from the restaurant about 30 minutes before the explosion. He described a strong smell of gas.
Fire Chief Berardi and Mayor James provided an update at a news conference:
KSHB-TV also has a 44-image photo gallery posted HERE.
Update #2, 10:30 am Central:
Fire Chief Berardi stated this morning that there is just one person missing in the explosion zone, a female employee of the restaurant. A second person thought to have been missing has been located in one of the hospitals being treated for injuries. CBS News has added:
(A major snow storm that is) due to reach Kansas City by Wednesday night could dump as much as 10 inches of snow on the city, adding even greater urgency to the effort to find a female employee who was last seen before the Tuesday evening blast and inferno that turned JJ's restaurant into blackened ruins.
Crews using heavy equipment moved delicately to lift away the heavy debris left by the blast. One of two people first feared to be missing was later found receiving treatment at a hospital, and Mayor Sly James stressed that finding the missing restaurant worker would remain the primary focus of Wednesday's efforts.
"We have a major storm coming in this evening," James said. "We're going to work diligently to get in (to the blast site) to get underneath that weather." Fire Chief Paul Berardi declined to release any information about the missing woman except that she worked at JJ's.
Just hours before the blast, many in the area had been complaining of a strong smell of gas, reporter Dave Hall of CBS Kansas City affiliate KCTV-TV reported on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday.
"We finally called the gas company," Dr. John Verstraete, who works at Plaza Physicians Group next door to JJ's, told CBS. "They came out. They checked inside our building, said that we needed to evacuate. It wasn't two minutes when we were grabbing our stuff and the explosion hit, and it hit you like a shockwave."
Missouri Gas Energy, which supplies the area, said in a statement that "early indications are that a contractor doing underground work struck a natural gas line."
Cadaver dogs searched the rubble Tuesday night but did not find anything, so heavy equipment was brought in at dawn to remove several feet of heavy debris, James said.
Berardi said firefighters were called about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday with a report that a construction worker had hit a gas line near the restaurant. Firefighters conferred with MGE workers and left the scene, and the explosion occurred about 45 minutes later. He said the cause of the gas leak and fire is still unknown.
"Once we confirm the victim is or isn't inside the building, that part of the investigation will continue," Berardi said.
A MAJOR FIRE IN A MONTREAL, Quebec, oil delivery firm Friday evening brought 150 firefighters to the scene. The Leonard & Rioux fuel oil delivery storage and garage building was fully involved in an area surrounded by homes and an immediate exposure problem faced the FD.
Declining to put water into the building where oil was on fire, the FD special called a foam truck to cover the interior while the hose lines were used to protect the exposures.
The fire began around 4 pm and was knocked down in just under two hours, although units were on the scene for several more hours working the hot spots and pockets where a portion of the roof had collapsed.
Compounding the fire problem were oil delivery trucks and storage tanks inside the building, and some diesel storage as well. The firefighters were able to successfully contain the fire without any extension to other properties other than some electric lines.
TVA News has several good videos with fire footage HERE. La Presse has MORE.
This home video taken from one of the exposure homes dramatizes the extent of the containment problem:
WHEN FIRE STARTED RACING THROUGH a commercial building in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Friday afternoon, the Studio Raw Hair Salon was filled with customers, most of them high school girls getting ready for this weekend's prom.
The 2-alarm fire began around 2 pm.
(North Hills Patch)
The 2-story building had been added on to over the decades and was filled with hidden voids and attic spaces. As the fire grew quickly, everyone was told to evacuate but the salon's owners and employees couldn't abandon their customers. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tells what happened next:
"We didn't want to disappoint them, so as we were leaving the building we grabbed a (styling) chair and some other equipment so we could keep working outside," he said.
Dan Burda, another of the salon's owners, said getting all the clients done — especially those preparing for the prom — was important.
"It's a big event in their lives," he said. "There's no way we were going to turn them away because of a fire."
As the fire continued on its way to completely gutting the building that held five businesses, the Studio Raw crew kept on cuttin'. The clippers weren't the only ones getting kudos yesterday. More from the Tribune-Review:
Attorney Michael Eisen, who has his bankruptcy law practice in the building at 3185 Babcock Blvd., said the willingness "to go above and beyond" that the salon operators exhibited extended to the (firefighters).
"I realized that everything in my office was probably destroyed," Eisen said. "But I asked one of the firefighters whether he thought there was a chance my law school diploma could be salvaged. Before I knew it, he was walking out of the building and handed it to me."
WTAE-TV has a good video HERE.
The North Hills Patch has MORE.
A FIRE BROKE OUT AT A PARIS, France, BMW motorcycle dealer around 1 pm Monday afternoon.
The Paris Fire Brigade was on the scene quickly with the first units arriving in less than five minutes, but the fire was already extending through a major portion of the rear part of the building. There were many close exposures and the firefighters worked hard to successfully contain the fire to the dealer's property.
The building that burned was a major repair workshop for motorcycles and was completely destroyed. One of the employees told 20minutes, a news agency, that around 1 pm he heard a loud "boom" and then saw a very large amount of flames coming from one end of the building. The 18 mechanics were on lunch break at the time and the shop was closed. An adjoining building had ten other employees in it and they witnessed the sudden ignition and called the fire brigade.
Close exposures but all were saved. (Le Parisien)
The fire was knocked down in 45 minutes. There were approx. 70 motorcycles in the workshop at the time, but it is not known how many of them were destroyed.
THE TINY, OLD-WEST TOWN OF MARIPOSA, CALIFORNIA (Pop. 2,200), is best known as one of the gateways to the Yosemite National Park, seeing thousands of visitors passing through on their way to the park. Friday night a fire started in a large 90-yr.-old building currently used as a restaurant and within minutes it had spread through an entire row of six other shops along the block of 5th Street. The entire row was one building that had been added onto many times since the original portion was constructed in 1920. It covered 9,000 sq. ft. and had a common attic and basement as well.
Merced Sun-Star photo taken in an early stage of the fire.
The fire began in The Pizza Factory located on the corner of 5th Street and Route 140 around 8:30 pm Friday night when the popular local hangout was packed with customers starting their weekend. The Modesto Bee continues:
It was standing-room only with about 80 people in there," said Luke Willey, co-owner of the Mariposa Pizza Factory. "We ripped the wall down trying to put (the fire) out, but it got into the attic. The building was so old, it went up fast."
Everyone escaped safely, and the crowd watched helplessly as flames spread from one shop to the next.
"I felt the heat (from a block away)," said Sean LaFleur, who lives and works in Mariposa. He described the inferno as "hell on Earth," and he used his iPhone to record the horror. "It gave me nightmares, and I really could not sleep at all (Friday night)."
By dawn, nothing was left of the pizza parlor or the adjacent businesses: Pony Expresso Coffee House & Trading Post, Tracy's Yarns, Larry's Coins, Grace Notes Chimes, the Mariposa County Arts Council Gallery and the Windows on the World bookstore.
KMPH-TV filed this video report:
More than 70 firefighters from Mariposa, Merced, and Madera Counties, plus units from CalFire fought the blaze, mainly concentrating on containment. They did keep it from spreading to a nearby church and other commercial parcels on the street.
A FIRE BROKE OUT IN A BUTUAN, PHILIPPINES, CLOTHING STORE Wednesday morning that killed 17 of the 20 or so employees who also live there. The victims, all women, were asleep in the top-floor dormitory of the 3-story building that houses the retail business.
AP / Mascarinas
The fire started just before 4 am local time and burned for five hours. The city of 300,000 has a very limited fire protection service.
Three women managed to dash out of a burning room and groped their way down three floors in darkness but found that the main steel door in the building in downtown Butuan city was locked, police investigator Jonathan Basil said.
Bystanders used a hydraulic car jack to pry open the gate and pulled the three screaming women out from the burning lobby, Basil said.
"The women kept on pounding the hot steel gate while yelling for help," Basil told The Associated Press by telephone, adding that the employee who kept the door key perished in the room upstairs.
Mylene Tulo, one of three who escaped, said she woke up as the fire spread rapidly in the third-floor room where they slept. She managed to dash out with two colleagues. All three sustained minor burns on their arms.
All 17 victims were burned beyond immediate recognition and the authorities will be seeking dental records and family members for DNA samples to eventually identify those lost. The possibility exists of finding still more vicitms before the day is out.
AP / Mascarinas
The building was originally a theater that has since been partitioned off into several retail shops including the clothing store where the fire started. The cause is unknown and the local official designated to declare that a short circuit started it has not arrived on the scene yet.
AN EARLY-MORNING FIRE DESTROYED four businesses in Los Angeles, California, Sunday. The fire was reported around 2 am and when the first units arrived they found heavy smoke coming from a 50' x 100' building that was divided into four occupancies. It is located in the area known for housing many clothing factories and wholesalers.
The incident commander immediately called for additional companies bringing 120 firefighters to the scene. After 45 minutes, the roof was becoming "spongey" and the evacuation was ordered and defensive operations began.
The fire was out after 1hr.-40 minutes. Two of the units were heavily damaged while a firewall kept the loss at the other two units lower.
The LAFD News blog reports that a fire captain suffered a "significant avulsion" to his arm and has been hospitalized.
This video report from KCBS-TV has good fire footage:
A FIRE IN DOWNTOWN NANTES, FRANCE, has destroyed several businesses along with many apartments and homes. The fire started Sunday afternoon and was not completely extinguished until nearly two days later on Tuesday. The buildings are located in an "island" within the buildings facing the streets on the block. Access for the firefighters was limited to narrow alleyways leading back to the area.
The cause or even the point of origin are still not yet known. Dozens of people lost their residences but they all escaped safely. The only reported injuries so far are to two firefighters who were concussed by an exploding gas bottle. Late Tuesday morning there were still nearly 100 firefighters mopping up the hot spots in the area.
Ouest-France / Dubray
Sixteen businesses were completely lost and the structures containing them will have to be rebuilt before they can move back in. Nine of the apartments will require a year before they can be used again. As many as 48 residences were affected by the fire.
Le Parisien has the story HERE. Ouest-France has MORE. Le Telegramme also has some DETAILS.
MORE THAN 100 MONMOUTH COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS were called to a commercial blaze in downtown Long Branch, New Jersey, Monday mid-day. A large and difficult-to-control fire ripped through a 3-story apartment building and several adjoining businesses.
Asbury Park Press / Frank
The fire was reported at 10:30 am and the first to arrive was Assistant Fire Chief Angelo Ciaglia who immediately upgraded the response to three alarms. The Asbury Park Press continues:
He said fire damaged buildings between 54 and 71 Brighton Ave. The flames burned so intensely that the walls of several buildings collapsed on the Brighton Avenue side throughout the day.
The fire was declared under control at 7:15 p.m., the chief said. However, firefighters brought in lights to illuminate the fire scene into the night. "It’s under control, but we’re still putting water on it," he said at 8 p.m. Monday.
Ciaglia said the first 25 firefighters on the scene evacuated residents. When firefighters began putting water on the fire, they were hampered by low pressure from the city hydrants, he said.
The Monmouth County Large Diameter Hose Task Force was brought in to draft water from a lake ¾-mile away and bring it to the fire scene, he said.
Firefighters pumped 6,000 gallons of water per minute onto the flames at the height of the fire, the chief said.
Asbury Park Press / Spader
A total of 4 businesses were completely destroyed along with the 12 apartment units, and at least six more shops were damaged by the fire and smoke. The apartment building was 140 years old and a landmark in the downtown area located one block from the shore.
NewsChannel 12 provided a good video report from their helicopter:
The owner of the apartment building told the Asbury Park Press reporter:
A dollar amount cannot be put on what was lost Monday, said Grubman, who bought 59 Brighton in 1985 when it was in foreclosure and facing condemnation. He said he renovated the building, which had long been home to The Turntable record store.
Grubman said he completely refurbished the existing apartments and upgraded the interior by installing fire stops, fire-rated wallboard and smoke detectors. "I did so much to make sure something like this never happened to this building," said Grubman, noting the building once belonged to the Steinbach family.
When The Turntable was open, he said, it was a regular haunt of Bruce Springsteen. "I just wanted it to be safe. This is just mind-blowing to me."
Star-Ledger / Houston
The cause and point of origin of the fire is still under investigation, but initially they are looking at the basement of one of the commercial buildings at 61 Brighton that housed a dance school.
The Asbury Park Press posted some raw video taken from street level:
Read the full report in the Asbury Park PressHERE.
The Star-Ledger has MORE.
A SELLERSBURG, INDIANA, STRIP SHOPPING CENTER was completely destroyed Friday afternoon when a fire swept through the roof. The commercial center housed five businesses and the fire, pushed by 35 mph winds, quickly got into all the occupancies.
The call was dispatched at 2:07 pm after an agent in the State Farm Insurance agency reported a smell of smoke. When the FD arrived on the scene they found smoke coming from around an electic sign attached to the roof at the insurance office. When they opened up the roof there, found fire inside and it immediately began running the building. The other four occupancies were a florist, a pizza carry-out, a liquor store, and a chiropracter office.
After getting all the businesses' employees out safely, they attacked the fire with the aid of companies from four other fire departments.
A FIRE SUNDAY MORNING IN DALTON, GEORGIA, destroyed a large indoor shopping center that housed 8 businesses. The fire also caused extensive damages to two adjacent shops. The vintage commercial building was known as Peacock Alley and was one of Dalton's heritage buildings.
The fire was reported via monitored alarm at 6:30 am Sunday and when the FD arrived they found the building charged with smoke. When they made entry into the structure the fire grew quickly and soon required the firefighters' withdrawal. The bulk of the fire attack was geared on containment at that point.
Dalton Fire Chief Bruce Satterfield told the Dalton Daily Citizen:
"Once they made entry, the fire immediately started boiling on them," Satterfield said. "We had very low water pressure, which isn’t common in downtown. Between the intensity of the fire and the low water pressure, we were forced out of the building. It wasn’t safe to be in there so the firefighters started defensive measures" to save surrounding businesses.
Firefighters focused their efforts on preventing the fire from spreading to the state probation offices on the north side of Peacock Alley and the accounting office, Satterfield said.
The fire prompted a full-callback of Dalton firefighters.
WDEF-TV Ch. 12 Chattanooga posted this video report:
Updated, 3 pm Central: Video added and more details included.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, FIREFIGHTERS ARE ON THE SCENE of a major commercial fire in the Southtown district this morning.
The fire is reportedly centered at the LaTuna bar which is fully involved and it is believed that another nightspot, the PediCab Bar & Grill is also burning. There may be a third building on fire as well. WOAI-TV posted this early video report before the fire was knocked down:
The alarm was dispatched around 5 am Central and by 6:30 am the fires were knocked down. A tenant who lived above the LaTuna said that he heard a "small explosion" just before 6 am and saw fire at the rear of Pedicab. It spread quickly into the entire tavern and started into the LaTuna bar.
The LaTuna bar was originially built as an ice house and the walls were sheathed with tin inside and out, making firefighting difficult and the interior temperatures unusually hot. The total loss is expected to reach $400,000.
The San Antonio Express-News has an updated REPORT.
THE FAR-NORTH TOWN OF BABBITT, MINNESOTA, suffered a crippling fire Saturday morning when the area's only grocery store and pharmacy were both destroyed by a fire that hit the main shopping center.
Northland FireWire photo
The fire was discovered and reported at 2 am Saturday and was well-involved when the first fire units arrived. Nine fire departments were dispatched to help fight the blaze that also damaged several other businesses including the offices for the weekly newspaper, a bank, restaurant, and a coin laundry.
The next closest grocery store and nearest pharmacy are about 15 miles distant.
The Zupancich family business, Zupancich Brothers Inc. of Ely, owns the building, and the other businesses lease space from them. The metal structure was built in the late 1950s, Zupancich said.
The family owns six Zup’s grocery stores on the Iron Range and North Shore.
Zupancich marveled at the firefighting effort. "These guys were so good you couldn’t believe it," he said. "They just did a fantastic job of saving what could have been a total loss of the entire shopping center."
KSTC-TV Ch. 45 posted this video report:
Babbitt Fire Chief Ryan Scharber said that the cause is not yet identified, but the state fire marshal was on the scene all day Saturday. The loss is estimated at more than $1 million. Since the electrical service to the building was severely damaged, none of the other businesses will be able to re-open before next week.
Google Street View of the shopping center that serves the town of 4,100.
KQDS-TV has more plus a video report HERE.
WDIO Radio has a photo gallery HERE.
A LARGE HOME IMPROVEMENT RETAIL STORE was heavily damaged in a fire early Sunday morning in Antibes, France.
Nice-Matin / Lapoirie
The fire was dispatched at 2:30 am and the first-arriving engine found "a gigantic" fire involving 2,000 sq. m. of the Castorama retail establishment. The fire was concentrated in the floor area containing paints, flooring, lighting and bathroom fixtures. The store was built of sheet metal and was readily failing in the fire. The fire attack of 130 firefighters and 36 engines was concentrated on cofinement to protect several commercial structures, warehouses, and a pine woods that closely borders the Castorama property.
The fire was contained by 5 am and was extinguished at 7 am. At the peak, the FD was flowing 7,000 lpm on the blaze.
Nice-Matin filed this video report from the fire scene:
The police are still investigating the cause and reviewing whatever CCTV recordings survived.
A 2-ALARM FIRE IS WORKING in Uniondale, New York this morning. The alarm for an outside fire was dispatched around 5 am and the FD found what may have been a rubbish fire that had spread into the Thrifty Beverage store on Nassau Rd.
As the firefighters were knocking the blaze down, it would continually flare back up, leading to a 2nd-alarm dispatch at 8 am.
WNYW-TV Ch. 5 has this video report taken from their helicopter just after the 2nd was hit:
It's still a working fire, so no more information is yet available.
A FIRE BROKE OUT IN THE TOWN CENTER OF MALTA, MONTANA, Wednesday morning.
Great Falls Tribune
A truck driver passing through the town of only 2,300 population discovered the fire shortly before 4 am when he saw smoke coming out of the rear of the commercial building that held five businesses. The 90-yr.-old building is owned by the weekly newspaper which was the primary tenant. It also housed a beauty salon, an appliance store, a T-shirt shop and a variety store.
Great Falls Tribune
The early belief is that the fire started in the basement of the building. During the course of the blaze the entire front wall collapsed. The building is a total loss but the four area fire departments were able to contain the fire to the building of origin, keeping it from spreading to the adjoining buildings, a bar and a department store. A motel situated just 200 feet away was evacuated as a precaution, but it had no damage.
Great Falls Tribune
The Great Falls Tribune has the STORY. Check the link to their photo gallery on that same page.
KXLH-TV posted this raw video of the fire:
Firegeezer says: Judging from the photographs, it looks like they did a magnificent job containing the fire.
THE MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, FIRE DEPARTMENT arrived on the scene of a commercial fire at 3:30 am Central this morning (Tuesday) to find the building already heavily-involved with fire.
The primary tenant is a restaurant on the ground floor, the popular Pizza Man, and there are about 10 apartment units above. The volume of fire prevented any entry by the FF’s, but it was recently announced that all the tenants are believed to be out and accounted for. The fire response was rapidly increased to four alarms and just recently it was elevated to a fifth alarm.
The fire has extended into four other commercial occupancies and there have been two separate partial wall collapses so far.
The fire is not yet under control, so there is no more information available on the origin, etc.
WTMJ-TV filed this video report from the scene at 7 am Central time:
This video report includes the press conference held by acting fire chief Michael Jones along with some additional fire footage: