It was a stubborn fire that ripped through the Travellers Building on Broad Street.
That’s how acting fire chief Layne Jackson described it. He said a crew of about 25 men and women responded to the structure fire around 10 p.m. Tuesday evening.
“Given the size of that building, it was a long firefight through the entire night and into the morning,” said Jackson. “It was pretty early on when they knew that building itself wasn’t going to make it.”
Crews were also battling high winds and a drop in the wind chill as the blaze intensified. The chief said that they constantly were rotating shifts to make sure that the crew was kept warm.
“Given those weather conditions — extreme cold, extreme wind — and we’ve got firefighters on ladders and we’ve got firefighters spraying water, it’s very dangerous … We had a support unit out there for them to warm up, we were changing them out regularly.”
He went on to say that immediately crews started to attack the blaze defensively from the exterior of the building. Two aerial trucks with spray operators were set up as soon as they arrived.
Jackson said the main concern was making sure to keep the flames from spreading to the buildings to the south of the structure.
“The construction of it was brick and heavy timber,” he said. “Once the fire gets seeded into that heavy wood construction inside and into the roof it’s very dangerous and it becomes a very stubborn fire.”
With the building being a total loss, and for safety reasons, the historical building has started to be demolished.
Jackson said a fire investigator has been actively on the scene to figure out the cause but with a major incident like this, it can be a complicated investigation, adding that it’ll take some time.
The 1800 block of Broad Street is now back to a normal traffic flow however due to the demolition, the parking stalls in front of the building have been blocked off. Heavy debris still needs to be cleaned up and it is not safe for people to enter the structure.