ST. LOUIS – A second-alarm fire breaks out at the Railway Exchange building Friday afternoon.
Firefighters were called to the 600 block of Olive around 3:45 p.m.There was a fire in one of the ground-floor openings. Smoke could also be seen coming from a window higher up in the building. See video of the fire here.
“We have sent our crews down to that building. They are inside the building and outside the building. We know if we get a fire in there, it’s going to be a very substantial incident,” said St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.
Les Sterman from Citizens For a Greater Downtown St. Louis shared some video and photos with FOX 2 of when the fire intensified Friday afternoon. There were significant flames building from the bottom floor. As of 5 p.m., crews have mostly controlled the situation, but significant damage remains.
The fire comes as Vice President Kamala Harris is in town for a Democratic National Convention meeting. She is set to give a speech at 4:15 p.m.
The vacant building has recently had security issues. A bill introduced Friday to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen would begin eminent domain proceedings against the owners of the vacant Railway Exchange Building downtown, also known as the former ‘Famous Barr’ building.
The building has been the site of many problems, including people breaking into it.
It’s understood that the owners, Hudson Holdings of Florida, stopped paying for security two weeks ago, allowing vandals to return. The legislation would allow the city to take possession of the condemned property.