As more than 100 firefighters worked through the night battling a massive blaze at a downtown Jacksonville apartment building, they were also working to protect nearby businesses.
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue crews from across the city surrounded the new RISE Doro Apartments at 960 E. Adams St. late Sunday night after the first call came in around 9:30 p.m. The fire appeared contained after about 90 minutes, but then reignited around midnight and continued to burn all night.
The 80-foot-tall apartment building, which is a wood frame structure, sits in the Downtown Jacksonville sports complex next to VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena and 121 Financial Ballpark.
It’s also near a distillery and a brewery: Manifest Distilling and Intuition Ale Works.
JFRD Chief Keith Powers said the south wall of the apartment building faces Intuition, causing major concern overnight.
“That south wall is compromised so they made a big stand last night,” Powers said. there was a couple of things going on but mainly keeping the fire from progressing over there and then compromising that south facing wall which could have fallen over into intuition and then obviously the spirits inside that building are highly flammable, which could have created a bigger catastrophe than we already had.”
Powers said the firefighters concentrated on that end of the building to keep the fire away from the business.
“I can’t praise the men and women of JFRD Enough for the heroic actions they took last night to protect some of these surrounding businesses,” Powers said.
But the concern of building collapse remains.
The west wall of the building is already visibly leaning in on one end.
“We had to back our apparatus away and stage them on the corners of the buildings, which is the safest area for us to work in,” Powers said. “(Collapse) is a big concern of ours right now, keeping our men and women safe because as that roof burns off you lose structural integrity and the walls can pull in or fall out.”
It’s likely firefighters will be on the scene for days.
“Because of all the void spaces that are up there and because it’s not safe for us to put personnel inside that means we have to work on it from the outside and that means it’s hard to get to, so I think we’re talking about days,” Powers said.
Powers said there was a meeting on Monday afternoon with city lawyers, engineers and municipal code compliance and they will try to determine what JFRD will have to do to keep the area safe until it can figure out what to do in the future.
The state fire marshall is investigating the cause of the fire.