Old North St. Louis warehouse collapses during fire – Smoke visible for miles

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Blustery winds fueled a massive warehouse fire just outside of Downtown St. Louis, Friday afternoon.

This was the second vacant warehouse to burn Friday afternoon in the same 10-12 block area just about an hour after the first.

Most of the old storage warehouse at North 13th Street and Mullanphy Street collapsed as firefighters continued to pour water onto it into the early evening.  

20-to-25 mile an hour winds acted as fuel for the fire that began at about 1:30 p.m. according to St. Louis Fire Chief, Dennis Jenkerson. The fire burned so hot, firefighters had to attack from the air and from across the street, he said. They had to keep their distance.

Iron beams making up the interior structure became warped and twisted in the heat.  

The building is more than 100 years old. It was built in 1919. It had 36,000 square feet under the roof and took up nearly an entire square block.

Thankfully, there was nothing inside, Jenkerson said. The property is part of developer Paul McKee’s stalled effort to revitalize North St. Louis. Embers from the warehouse fire caught a nearby tree on fire and sparked a fire in a nearby pallet yard. Firefighters put that out quickly.   

The warehouse went up about an hour after another large, wind-fueled, fire in a vacant building about 10 blocks away in the 1500 block of St. Louis Avenue.

Investigators would be looking into a possible connection, Jenkerson said.   

We had one of our coldest nights of the Fall overnight. It’s possible that homeless people were inside using fires to stay warm, Jenkerson said.  

Jenkerson hopes to get investigators onto the warehouse site with canines Friday evening or Saturday to try to pinpoint the cause of the blaze. Given the extent of the damage it might never be determined, he said.

There were no injuries reported.   

Smoke from the fire over I-70 in downtown St. Louis

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