The Metropolitan Fire - March 16, 2017

Summary/Short Version

Version 2.0 - April 3, 2017.

Mike Legeros photos

Thursday, March 16

  • Engines 13, 1, 3, 5, Ladders 4, 2, Rescue 1, Battalions 3, 2 responded to a reported structure fire at 400 W. North Street. They were dispatched at 10:03 p.m.
  • The address is just a few blocks from Station 1, and crews can see the glow of the fire as they turn onto Harrington Street.
  • They arrive at the intersection of Jones and Harrington streets, at an unfinished five-story apartment building, with 275,000 square-feet. First floor is built of concrete, the remaining floors are wood.
  • They see heavy fire inside the structure, on the center right side of the building.
  • Engine 13 was first on scene, arriving at 10:05 p.m.
  • Engine 13 officer established command.
  • Within minutes, the fire spread through the entire width of the structure, and was venting along the entire front of the building, facing Jones Street.
  • Engine 13 officer called for a second (10:06 p.m.) and third alarm (10:08 p.m.), within minutes of arriving. The EMS district chief, also on scene, also called for a second alarm (10:06 p.m.).
  • Firefighters began defensive operations, to protect the surrounding buildings, or exposures: high-rise apartment building (left side/Division B), high-rise office (facing the fire/Division A), and condominium building, and a three-story office building (right side/Division D).
  • They deployed portable ground monitors and aerial streams, and created protective water curtains between the fire and the exposures.
  • Because of the volume of fire, their first priority was protecting the other buildings. Crews began assisting with evacuation of the Links Apartments and the Quorum Center. They then soon performed searches of both buildings, going floor by floor, and unit by unit, to ensure all occupants were out.
  • Battalion 3 soon arrived (10:11 p.m.), assumed command, and requested a fourth alarm.
  • Sixteen minutes into the incident (10:19 p.m.), a tower crane at the construction site collapsed, and landed atop a building on the west side of the structure. No firefighters or civilians were injured.
  • Burning embers from the 200-some foot flames were spread in the air, and started fires on several other buildings, including landscaping and roofing fires.
  • Calls were received at 10:28 p.m. for the Edenton Street United Methodist Church youth center (fire)  at Edenton and Dawson, and at 10:32 p.m. for the Sacred Heart Cathedral (burning embers) on Hillsborough Street, for example.
  • Some of the pumping engines and aerial apparatus was repositioned, to different sides of the fire building.
  • Ladder 8 was also used as a standpipe system, to supply two hand lines to the top of the parking deck, where building materials were staged, and were burning.
  • The Links Apartments and the Quorum Center were managed as separate incidents, using high-rise operational techniques, including carrying high-rise hose packs to upper floors, using an engine company to boost pressure to the fire system, and conducting searches of all floors and occupancies. These incidents were declared under control after 11:00 p.m.
  • As city fire stations were depleted, county fire departments were requested as mutual aid, to help provide coverage. Fifteen neighboring departments sent units to assist.
  • The main fire was declared under control at 1:10 a.m.
  • Roads were closed two blocks in all directions. Raleigh police officers provided perimeter control.
  • At least 257 residents were displaced.
  • Five people were treated for smoke inhalation, and one firefighter was injured by falling glass.
  • Wake County EMS provided medical support, including treatment of patients, and medical monitoring, and rehab for responders.
  • Fire resources included: 24 engines (include two squads/rescue pumpers), seven ladders, one rescue, two mobile air units, and five Battalion Chiefs. Fire personnel totaled abpit 130 firefighters.
  • EMS resources included 12 EMS ambulances, five District Chiefs, and a Major Operations Support Unit. EMS personnel totaled about 32 medics.

Friday, March 17

  • Between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., most of the original units were returned to service. They returned to their stations, and would begin checking their gear, changing out equipment and hose, and returning to service.
  • By 8:00 a.m., crews were still water in the fire building. Two aerial streams were still deployed, Ladder 3 and Ladder 9.
  • Crews  continued extinguishing the fire through the day, to douse any remaining hot spots.
  • Overhaul was started in the affected exposures, with such actions as removing remaining windows or window glass from the fire-facing side of the Quorum Building.
  • Fire investigators, who were on scene since the time of the fire, were joined by State Bureau of Investigation and Federal ATF members.

Saturday, March 18

  • Firefighters started set-up a mobile shelter, for use for canteen services, for fire, EMS, and law enforcement personnel on scene.
  • Firefighters began escorting residents into their evacuated buildings, to retrieve possessions in the late morning.
  • Fire investigators were joined by members of an ATF national response team.

Sunday, March 19

  • Firefighters continued escorting residents into their evacuated buildings, to retrieve possessions.
  • Fire investigators continued their work on scene.

Friday, March 24

  • The ATF national response team concluded its work.

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