Downtown building burns: Downtown building destroyed by fire, ruining more than $1 million in propertyThe smoke could be seen from 30 miles away when a northwest Jamestown building used for storage burned Friday.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The smoke could be seen from 30 miles away when a northwest Jamestown building used for storage burned Friday.
The building at 305 First Ave. N., owned by Vining Oil, was completely engulfed in flames when firefighters received the call at 9:54 a.m.
The Jamestown Fire Department brought in all its firefighting equipment and personnel during the blaze, which destroyed the building and its contents and damaged an adjacent building.
“We had everything we have at the (fire) hall at the scene,” Jamestown Fire Chief Jim Reuther said. “We had 35 firefighters respond to the fire.”
No one was injured in during the fire.
Reuther said investigators would not be able to get close enough to research the fire’s cause until Monday at the soonest.
Brad Vining, CEO of Vining Oil, said the building’s contents included several 55-gallon barrels of oil, 600 to 700 truck tires and two tractors. He said the monetary loss could easily reach more than $1 million.
The oil and tires contributed to the dense, black smoke the fire produced.
Fire was also reported in the back stairwell and elevator shaft of the former Elks building, although firefighters prevented the flames from spreading through the building, Reuther said.
“It looks to me like it’s trashed,” said Allen Huber, owner of the old Elks building. “I’m assuming a lot of smoke and water damage and the water ran through the building down into the basement and the electrical room.”
Reuther said no damage estimate was available. The city assessor had set a value of $31,800 on the Vining building although the contents’ value was unknown. The city assessor valued the old Elks building at $28,000.
At the peak of the firefighting efforts Friday morning, the department was pouring about 3,500 gallons of water on the blaze per minute, generating some concern for Jamestown’s water supply.
“We had the water plant on high,” said Reed Schwartzkopf, Jamestown city engineer. “They (the fire department) used everything we could give them.”
Otter Tail Power Co. turned off electricity to several buildings in the immediate vicinity at approximately 10:30 a.m. Jeff Hoff, a customer service manager with Otter Tail Power, said a few customers still had no power by late afternoon, but most power was restored by noon. A second brief outage occurred at about 4:25 p.m.
Concern that the fire would spread to the Elks building prompted evacuations of the buildings across the alley to the west and across the street from the fire.
The Gladstone Inn & Suites, located across the street to the southeast, evacuated some guests because of the amount of smoke being drawn into the building’s ventilation system. Guests were allowed back into their rooms later Friday.
Some residents from the apartment building west of the Elks building were sheltered by the Salvation Army, which is located across the street from the fire scene.
“This is the first disaster we’ve responded to without needing our mobile kitchen,” said Lt. Teresa Brecto of the Salvation Army. “Everyone is able to come right to us for assistance.”
The Salvation Army and American Red Cross’ Buffalo Valley Chapter provided aid to the firefighters during their efforts.
During the fire, police had blocked off traffic in an eight-block area around the fire. Officials planned to remove those road blocks as firefighting equipment and hoses were cleared from the scene. They did anticipate that the 300 block of First Avenue would remain blocked through the weekend with a detour in place.
The JFD requested the Jamestown Rural Fire Department be on standby during the fire in case another fire was reported. A fire alarm was reported at the North Dakota State Hospital during the fire. The Jamestown Police Department determined it was a false alarm.
Firefighters will continue to monitor the location through the weekend for flare ups and to maintain the scene. An insurance investigator is expected on Monday.
Bill Schammert of WDAY-TV contributed to this report.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org