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Louisville warehouse fire

3/18/2006

A five-alarm fire consumed a three-story warehouse near downtown Louisville Friday night, the Louisville Metro Fire Department said.

Louisville Metro Fire Department battles a fire in a three-story warehouse.
By Brian Bohannon, AP

The fire began just before 7 p.m. ET, with parts of the building having collapsed as the fire burned. Suburban fire departments were called in to assist Louisville Fire & Rescue later in the evening.

Louisville Metro Police said they were not evacuating homes in the area, but advising residents to keep windows closed. Police were also blocking streets around the warehouse.

About 145 firefighters fought the blaze, along with most of Louisville Fire & Rescue's trucks and equipment.

Off-duty firefighters were called in, and volunteer firefighters from suburban departments staffed many of the city's firehouses. Louisville Fire Department Lt. Col. Cynthia Waldon said 15 engines and 10 trucks were on the scene about 9 p.m. ET.

One firefighter was injured, having pulled a muscle while swinging an axe, fire officials said.

Louisville Fire Capt. Ronel Brown said the owner of the building, who he did not name, had been ordered to tear down the building, but the order had been appealed. Brown said the building's owner lives in California.

Brown said there have been problems with vagrants in the building and the size of the fire created problems in putting it out.

"It's just a large volume of fire in a large area," Brown said.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said the building had been vacant for about two years and subject to a battle over the order to dismantle it.

Billows of black smoke, embers and a glow from the fire could be seen around Louisville and smoke filled some of the nearby neighborhoods. The fire could be seen around Louisville, in parts of southern Indiana and the smoke was showing up on weather radar.

Dwane Williams, a retired firefighter who lives near the warehouse, said firefighters were probably battling fatigue and concerns about having enough power to battle the blaze.

"You gotta make sure the hydrants maintain their water," Williams said. "It's a lot of hard work."

"I've never seen anything like this and I can't recall another five-alarm fire," said Abramson, a Louisville native.

Louisville residents Roy Jackson and Amber Fiedler drove across town after seeing an orange glow in the sky and seeing the fire on the TV in their car.

"Not many people get to see a fire this big in their life," Jackson said.

The cause of the fire was unknown.

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