3-Alarm Fire Makes History in Colonial Heights, Virginia

Noon, May 11, 2005 -- The alarm sounded for a structure fire at the 400 block of Boulevard in Colonial Heights. As firefighters they arrived, they viewed an increasingly dangerous situation.

Flames and smoke billowed from the cinderblock structure. A Mutual Aid call was sounded.

Responding to the situation to assist Colonial Heights Fire and EMS were: Chesterfield Fire and EMS Station 12 from Matoaca, Prince George Company 1, Petersburg Fire Department, Fort Lee. Later that night Hopewell Fire and Rescue sent Truck 17 and aerial ladder and a crew to relieve other firefighters.

Yong's building was an inferno that would not quit and conditions were exhausting and hazardous for firefighters. One firefighter received a minor hand injury.

Colonial Heights Fire and EMS set up their firefighting apparatus on Side A, which was on the main road.

Prince George Company 1 set up on Side B.

Petersburg also positioned on Side A but a little further up from Colonial Heights.

Chesterfield positioned in the intersection and ran hoses to the scene

Firefighters battled the fire that would not go out. "The fire fight began as an interior attack," said Joe Boisseau. "It was quickly decided we weren't getting anywhere. The evacuation order was given. We pulled out and began fighting defensively. The cinderblocks hold heat and that made conditions worse."

Firefighters dealt with utility wires strung in every direction they tried to go. Aerial ladder operators had to maneuver up and over wires or under wires for firefighters to perform the operation. Even with the power off, the situation was hazardous.

The battle, which began at noon, continued all day in the heat.

The Red Cross assisted in providing the water and food for the exhausted firefighters.

Just when firefighters believed the fire was under control, the building would start rolling smoke and it would flame up again. This was the scenario all day and night, even after being doused with Class A foam.

Officials bulldozed the building for public safety.

Firefighters remained on the scene all night and the next day. Four blocks and several roads remained closed in Colonial Heights for three days.

Colonial Heights and Petersburg in a joint investigation team determined the cause to be electrical.

Damage estimate is at $100,000. The building is deemed a total loss.

This was the biggest fire Colonial Heights has experienced in years.