Fire in Downtown Riverside, damages estimated at $1.2 million to building

Posted Dec. 3, 2014 | Printed Dec. 1, 2014

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Joshua Wilson | Staff writer

A blaze ripped through a vacant Riverside apartment Nov. 16 at the corner of Market and Fairmont avenue. Riverside Firefighters responded to the fire at approximately 4:45 p.m. Approximately 100 firefighters and staff worked around the clock to battle the blaze in and outside of the three-story 5000 square foot former senior apartment.

Upon arrival to the scene, the Firefighters cut into the roof to ventilate the flames and then enter the building to ensure no one was inside. As the firefighters cleared the inside of the structure, the intensity of the heat in the room caused the entire interior to be set ablaze. The firemen in their protective gear were instructed to exit the building and descend from the roof for safety purposes. After assessing the situation, firefighters reentered the building.

Upon re-entry, firefighters reported dark smoke and zero visibility inside. After clearing the building the firefighters exited the building again for safety. Windows on the third floor blew out due to the pressure built up from the smoke. It was determined that the conditions from the interior structure were no longer safe for firefighters to work under as they exited the building. Riverside fire department battalion chief Mike Staley ordered the fire to be extinguished from the outside.

“Major parts of the fire were extinguished that night. There were still little pockets of fire burning that we couldn’t get to because floors had collapsed, and there was also a wall that was about ready to collapse, so there was no reason to put somebody in there to put out those little pockets of fire,” Staley said. “We put water on it from a distance until it finally went out.”

Fire hoses dumped thousands of gallons of water from various vantage points outside of the building.

Around midnight, a majority of the flames were extinguished. On Nov. 18, the building was finally tuned over to the owners, who’d been in the process of renovating the structure to re-open it for rent prior to the fire. The building suffered severe structural damage from the fire. The total cost in damages to the building were stated to be an estimated $1.2 million, however, the owners still plan to rebuild.

Arson investigators still have yet to determine the cause of the fire.