Contact: Captain John Metz
Duty PIO Pager 573-499-7035 (24 hours - Please No Voice Mail)
Office 573-874-7644 (M-F, 8-5)
At 5:11 a.m. Sunday, May 27, 2012 the Columbia Fire Department responded to a reported apartment building on fire at the corner of College Avenue and Walnut Street in central Columbia. Several 9-1-1 callers reported that there was fire visible on the second and third floors of the apartment complex.
Columbia firefighters arrived on the scene within two minutes and found the three-story, 73 unit apartment complex heavily involved in fire. The apartment complex was under construction and slated to open in the Fall of 2012. Immediately upon arrival, the incident commander requested a second and third alarm assignment. A third alarm means all on duty Columbia Firefighters and equipment. The fire was so intense that firefighters could not enter the building and were forced to fight the fire from outside. Firefighters attempted to knock down the main body of fire while, at the same time, protecting the neighboring buildings from the intense radiant heat. Firefighters used numerous hand lines and elevated ladder streams to control the fire.
It took forty firefighters and twelve fire trucks approximately 90 minutes to bring the blaze under control. The 145,000 square foot apartment complex sustained extensive damage and is likely a total loss. A preliminary damage estimate has been set at seven million dollars. The cause of the fire is not known at this time and is under investigation. Fire investigators have not yet been able to examine the scene because fire crews are still extinguishing hot spots and the building is structural unsafe. There is no time frame as to when the investigation will be completed. The building is owned by College and Walnut, LLC.
"This is obviously a catastrophic economic large-loss fire" said Fire Captain John Metz. "Fortunately there has been no loss of life or serious injuries" Metz said. The fire was so intense that radiant heat from the fire damaged windows on the Stephens College dorms located to the east across College Avenue's five traffic lanes.
During the firefighting efforts, Boone County Fire District personnel and equipment staffed four Columbia fire stations and responded to several small incidents.
There are five photos attached to this release.