JFRD tries to limit environmental impact, runoff into St. Johns River as RISE Doro building continues to burn

A brand-new luxury apartment building that was set to begin housing tenants by this weekend is now a water-soaked wood frame shell filled with soot and ash.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue personnel continued to pour thousands of gallons of water onto the RISE Doro building on East Adams Street to put out the hot spots that keep popping up.

JFRD Chief Keith Powers said the building being under construction is contributing to the difficulties firefighters are facing in extinguishing the fire.

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“Because we cannot get inside for safety reasons, the void spaces are holding a lot of the fire underneath. We have our drones up with infrared technology in them. And we can see the hot spots and where they’re burning, but getting to them is extremely difficult using ladder pipes because we can’t get up into those void spaces,” Powers explained. “So in some cases, we’re having to wait on the fire to burn through so we can get the ladder pipe in there to put it out.”

Powers expects it will take days to fully extinguish the fire, but, he said, the firefighters are being thoughtful about ongoing fire suppression efforts. They are trying to have as little impact as possible on the environment, which includes limiting water runoff to the St. Johns River.

Mayor Donna Deegan also brought up concerns about environmental impact on Monday.

“One of the concerns we have right now is trying to protect the river from the runoff that’s going out into the water, and we want to make sure that a lot of the debris that falls from the building doesn’t make its way into the river,” Deegan said.

The firefighters are battling the ongoing blaze with four ladder trucks on the outside corners of the building because the structure has become unsafe. A floor collapsed Monday afternoon, the roof is completely gone and the walls are starting to bow.

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Powers said there is a real concern that the building will collapse and the surrounding businesses in the “danger zone” will have to remain closed until further notice.

“Right now, there’s nothing that can be done other than to keep people out of those areas until we can get the fire extinguished,” Powers said. “Once we get the fire extinguished, engineers will come in and they’ll make a determination on how we proceed from there.”

Structural engineers were at the Downtown property on Monday, and Deegan said she’s hopeful they can move through the process quickly once they determine the best course of action.

The president of the company behind the building has already said they are committed to rebuilding.

RELATED: RISE developer says he ‘absolutely wants to see a rebuild’ after fire destroys Downtown apartment complex | Deegan: Massive sports complex apartment fire a ‘setback’ for downtown development, housing woes

The fire began Sunday night, with a 911 call coming in around 9:30 p.m. Firefighters believed it was under control by 11 p.m., but within an hour the blaze had reignited. It sent smoke billowing across the St. Johns River for hours on Monday.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Officials said the heavy winds kept the smoke from settling too much in one area and that early concerns about air quality have faded.

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