We were dispatched for the automatic fire alarm at City Hall at 10:49 pm. As the first companies pulled up, heavy smoke was showing from the rear.
A working fire was declared, sending an additional engine, truck and ALS company, and two 3000 gallon tanker-pumpers, and two additional chiefs to the original assignment, with two engines, a truck, a heavy rescue squad-pumper, a tanker, and ambulance, and three chiefs.
Handlines were advanced to the rear, and the doors forced.
Another 2 1/2 handline was added.
The tanker was nursing the squad while the second engine laid 500 feet of 5-inch to the hydrant.
The first arriving chief sounded a first alarm under our MABAS program bringing three more engines, another truck, another squad, another ambulance, three more chiefs and a RIT of a chief, engine and truck.
Our squad was in the rear pumping the handlines when the fire burned through the roof. We had yet to get the hydrant established so we backed out the crews and went defensive until the hydrant was secured.
The first truck was set up on the B side and told to prepare their ladder pipe. We were going to divide the building in half and try and save something.
We were waiting for another engine to lay the 1000+ feet of LDH to the hydrant to supply the ladder pipe when the fire began to overrun the cockloft. We also had a second truck setting up on the A side for a similar ladder pipe operation.
As the area is non-hydranted and we had long lays, water supply seemed like it was taking for ever but is was probably about 10 minutes based on the alarm office record.
Anyhow, the whole cockloft light up and we were behind the curve waiting for water. Once both ladder pipes, the deck gun and multiple handlines were flowing, we had over 3000gpm on the fire, but were making little progress.
We could not go interior. Once the main roof opened up, we were able to get the ladder pipes on the body of fire, and knock things down in about an hour.
We also had four, 3000 gallon tankers shuttling to supplement the water supply.
We had 20 departments and more than 70 firefighters on the scene, and finally brought he fire into the overhaul mode about three hours into the incident.