28 September 2007

Four-Alarm Fire at Coosemans' Warehouse in NE

Photo courtesy of dcfire.com
Two firefighters were injured in DC's first four-alarm blaze in nearly 7 years....From WUSA9:
DC Fire and EMS units fought a warehouse fire at 2144 Queens Chapel Road, Northeast, Thursday night. The location is off of Bladensburg Road near New York Avenue.

About 60 workers were inside the warehouse when the fire started. They told 9 News Now the flames first appeared near the rooftop sometime before 8pm. They tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher, but when their efforts failed, they called 911.

More than 160 firefighters were still battling the blaze three hours after it started.

"This is a very significant event. You can see the plumes of smoke even in the dark," said D.C. Fire Spokesman Alan Etter.

The first units responding ordered an exterior attack shortly after calling the second-alarm. The fire then grew to four alarms.

"Whenever you get into a sprawling structure like this, there's always a danger to firefighters," said Etter. "Our roof team could actually see part of the roof bowing in, so that's when you got to get everybody out."

At 7:50 p.m., Battalion Chief Kenneth Crosswhite, on the scene, told STATter 911 this is a 200 by 200 foot warehouse housing the DC operation of Coosemans Worldwide Produce. Chief Crosswhite said the crews were pulled out of the building because of the bowing of the exposed bar joist roof structure. He said there was fire throughout the building.

Coosemans workers said there were 8 diesel trucks inside the complex as well as hundreds of boxes containing highly flammable materials. However, firefighters were able to contain the fire so it did not reach those boxes.

Here's how Coosemans DC describes itself on its website:

For over 20 years, Coosemans DC has been providing some of the best specialty and exotic produce in the Washington/Baltimore area. First as Rock Garden and then joining forces with Coosemans, we have steadily grown to become a major importer, re-packer and distributor of over 400 specialty items.

Mayor Adrian Fenty visited the site around 10pm. Firefighters were still using a double ladder hose to reach the deep-seated pockets inside the building.

Fenty compared the fire to the Eastern Market blaze. "This is devastating," he said.

Additionally, about 145 people were relocated from two nearby homeless shelters when the power was shut down on the block.

You can view raw video footage shot by D.C. Fire & EMS photographer Vito Maggiolo here.

» dcfd.com
» dcfire.com

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