ST. LOUIS – Residents in a north St. Louis neighborhood are voicing concerns about the empty warehouse that caught fire Saturday evening. Many say the building has been a hub for seemingly criminal activity for years and hope it will now be demolished.
More than 12 hours after the fire initially started, firefighters remained on-site Sunday morning. Although the fire was put out around 10 p.m. Saturday, firefighters stayed overnight and into the morning to hose down a few hotspots left over from the massive fire.
“We heard some crackling, then when we looked up, we saw black smoke,” Darnell Gordon said.
Cell phone video shows the warehouse engulfed, with fire shooting out of the vacant building, and a huge cloud of smoke that could be seen for miles around the region.
Roughly 85 firefighters responded to the scene. Although the cause of the fire is unknown, St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson believes it looks suspicious.
“It just took off too fast. The first company was on the scene, and they were preparing to take an inch and ¾ in to make an interior attack, and then the second floor just entirely lit up, and that’s a big building for it to lit up like that,” he said.
Thankfully, the fire was put out and no one was hurt, but some in the community say the eyesore, which is adjacent to multiple apartment complexes, has been a problem and has long-concerned residents.
“I’m glad they got it out, because now the building will be gone, because nobody uses it for nothing, nobody but homeless people going in there or people doing drugs,” Gordon said. “That don’t look good, it makes the neighborhood look bad,”
The former timber construction warehouse near North 7th and O’Fallon streets has been vacant for years. Now that the building is gutted and filled with charred debris, it’s unclear whether it’ll be torn down; but it’s currently unsafe.
“It should have been torn down years ago, because it’s been like that for a long time,” said a nearby churchgoer, “it just makes the neighborhood look real bad.”
An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.