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On Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, fire destroyed the North Star Building in downtown Jamestown, ND. The building was owned by Vining Oil Co. and was being used for storage. It contained several 55-gallon drums of oil, hundreds of truck tires and two tractors.
Due to the advanced stage of the fire on arrival, no interior attack was initiated. Life-safety issues included the possibility of structural collapse, firefighter safety and the unknown hazardous materials involved in the fire. Fire Chief Jim Reuther immediately ordered the evacuation of a one-block radius around the incident.
The one-story building contained 4,000 square feet of space on the first floor and had a full basement. It was of Type 3 construction of brick with a wooden roof. The building had a metal roof over the flat rubber membrane roof. An attached exposure on side B, the vacant former Elks Building, was connected to the North Star Building. The two-story Elks Building was of brick construction with a metal roof over a flat rubber membrane roof. This building had a full basement and both floors contained 4,000 square feet each. There were no fire protection or detection systems in the buildings.
The Jamestown Fire Department was dispatched to a reported structure fire at the North Star Building at 305 First Ave. North at 9:54 A.M. Engines 20, 21 and 25; Ladder 30, a 95-foot aerial platform; Heavy Rescue 04; Equipment Truck 03; and Command Vehicle 01 responded with 31 firefighters under Reuther’s command.
On arrival, flames were through the roof with heavy, black smoke engulfing the building. Ladder 30 was positioned at the northeast corner of the building and supplied with a 250-foot, five-inch line from a hydrant capable of supplying 5,360 gpm. Engine 20 was positioned at the southeast corner and fed by a 300-foot, five-inch line from a hydrant capable of supplying 3,500 gpm. Engine 25 was positioned on side C and supplied with a 450-foot, five-inch line from a hydrant capable of supplying 3,220 gpm. Engine 21 was positioned on side D and supplied with 400-foot, five-inch line from a hydrant capable of supplying 3,900 gpm.
Ladder 30 was set up for aerial master stream operations and placed its platform master stream into operation. Engine 20 placed its deck gun into operation to protect the exposed Elks Building. On side C, Engine 25 operated a portable monitor supplied with a 400-foot, 2½-inch hoseline. Engine 21 placed its deck gun into operation on side D. Firefighters also placed two 200-foot, 1¾-inch attack lines and one 150-foot, 2½-inch attack line into operation on side D from Engine 21. The Jamestown Rural Fire Department was placed on standby at 11:11 A.M.
Fire spread to the Elks Building through a D-side window and through a dumbwaiter (food elevator) from the B-side exposure. Firefighters used two 1¾-inch attack lines to extinguish the fire in the dumbwaiter. A deck gun extinguished the fire inside the window of the Elks Building. No entry was made into the Elks Building until overhaul operations started.
Reuther declared the fire under control at 2:45 P.M. The last Jamestown units left the scene at 6 P.M. on Feb. 19.
Thirty-one firefighters operated three engines and one ladder at the scene of the fire. Four hydrants on the municipal water system supplied 800,000 gallons of water used to extinguish the fire. There were no civilian or firefighter injuries. The weather was clear with temperatures in the 30s.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Jamestown Fire Department, Jamestown Police Department and multiple insurance companies. Damage was estimated at $1.5 million.