Warehouse Fire in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Shortly after 2 PM on Sunday August 19, 2007, a reported structure fire was dispatched to 524 N Burdick sending Engines 3, 4 and 5, Truck 4 and several PSO's in patrol cars. An officer was on scene at the time fire units were dispatched, reporting a 3 story brick warehouse with heavy smoke showing from floors 2 and 3. Engine 4 and Truck 4 arrived shortly afterward with Engine 4 providing lines for initial attack through the front door, Truck 4 was directed to side 4 to set up their aerial in an adjacent alley and parking lot.

Access to the building was difficult due to its construction. Built in 1910, a 2 story former fire station-now office building shared a common wall on side 2 and a 1 story auto repair garage was attached to the back of the building on side 3. All windows to the building were either boarded up or closed over with concrete block. Doors only provided access into the first floor. Inside, officers found the building contained a heavy fire load from stored clothing, mattresses, appliances and

furniture donated to a local gospel mission. Access to the seat of the fire was not possible and evidence of structural compromise between floors was evident. The fire was now changed to a defensive attack.

Command requested additional help to the scene, bringing Engine 2, 6 & 7. A mutual aid platform truck was requested from Kalamazoo Twp - Westwood Station since the City's platform truck, Truck 6, was not in service after being damaged at a fire earlier in the week. As the fire progressed through the roof, apparatus repositioned out of the collapse zone. Truck 6 was retrieved and brought to the scene where temporary repairs were made to use it as a water tower on corner 1-2 of the building. Additional aerial trucks were called from Kalamazoo Twp - Eastwood Station to replace Westwood on corner 2-3 and the Oshtemo Fire Department to set up on corner 1-4.

A total of 8 hydrants from surrounding blocks were used as several deluge guns and aerial master streams played into the building. Command requested the water board to boost pressure to the area to meet the demand. A nearby railroad was closed for a short time as supply lines were laid across the tracks, briefly effecting the local Amtrak route.

After the main body of fire was controlled, personnel remained on the scene well into the night to extinguish remaining pockets of fire. The roof to the structure and all floors collapsed leaving the building a total loss. The value of the destroyed contents was estimated at $100,000. The adjacent firehouse-office building, which had just completed major renovations earlier this year, suffered considerable smoke and water damage along with possible damage to the structure. There were no injuries reported. While the cause of the fire is still being investigated, it is initially believed to have been from an electrical problem.

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