ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – A four-alarm fire tore through a warehouse in Downtown St. Louis Monday morning, destroying a building that had stood for more than 100 years in one of the oldest parts of the city, and had been owned by the same family for several generations.
Firefighters were called to the brick three-story warehouse in 700 block of South First Street at 11:30 A.M. Monday, after a plumber sent by the owner to work on the building spotted the fire.
The building sits just west of the Mississippi River floodwall and just south of the Poplar Street Bridge.
“You could see the flames just roaring up and coming out and a big cloud of smoke covering the sun,” said Calvin Williams, who had been sent to the building by his employer to pick up filters from one of the companies using the warehouse for storage.
The building has a sign on top for Servco Restaurant Equipment. The building is owned by the same family that owns Servco, but it has always been used as rental storage for other companies.
One of those tenants used the first floor of the building to store furniture.
That`s the same part of the building that caught fire. The top two floors
In addition to a dense area of burning furniture inside, fighting the fire was made more difficult by a dearth of hydrants.
“When you have this much fire load the BTUs are way up,” said St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson. “If you don`t have enough water to overcome the output of heat, it is just steam before it even hits the product.”
Servco Vice-President Greg Gates was on the scene all day, saddened by the loss of something that had been in his family so long, but pleased no one was hurt.
“My grandfather bought these buildings, and it is something we`ve held onto and hoped at some point to make into lofts,” Gates said.
One section of the building to the south may have been spared significant damage because of a firewall. The main part of the building will be condemned.
There were about a dozen people in the building when it caught fire, but all managed to evacuate safely.
No firefighters were injured either, despite the area around the fire being icy from all the water and cold weather.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
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4th alarm fire 709 S. First Street…3 story warehouse; third floor fully involved! pic.twitter.com/5upKlnDiMo
— St. Louis Fire Dept (@STLFireDept) December 16, 2013
— Mike Zeiter (@MZeiter) December 16, 2013