The People's Tribune

Fire Claims Historic Icehouse

A massive fire consumed one of Louisiana’s historic buildings last Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Emergency crews from the Louisiana, Bowling Green, Buffalo Township, Clarksville, Curryville, Eolia, Frankford, Lincoln County, and Hannibal Fire Departments fought to contain the blaze as billowing clouds of smoke blanketed the area southwest of the building forcing officials to evacuate residences in the area.

Thankfully, despite 60 personnel, 23 pieces of equipment, and numerous onlookers there were no injuries were reported.

Louisiana Fire Chief, Philip Quattrocchi, released the following information regarding the fire.

According to his statement, the Louisiana Fire Department was dispatched at 3:20 p.m. to the structure fire at 314 South Main Street.

“On arrival, fire crews saw smoke coming from all four corners of the building, out from along the roofline, and through several cracks noted on the upper exterior walls,” he stated. “Crews started suppressions efforts on the north side of the structure in attempts to control the fire.”

But according to the Fire Chief’s report, the situation escalated with the rapidly changing behavior of the fire and smoke conditions as it spread throughout the structure.

“The commanding officer ordered a defensive attack and removed all personnel from entering the building,” Chief Quattrocchi explained.

Instead, emergency crews used large diameter hoses, several ground monitors, deck guns attached, and aerial ladders provided by the Lincoln County and Hannibal departments to fight the fire.

“The aerial ladders from the Lincoln County FPD and Hannibal Fire Department were essential in gaining control of the incident.”

As firefighters attempted to control the blaze from spreading to nearby buildings, they feared the possibility of a structural collapse.

Those fears became a reality.

“Fire crews exerted all efforts to suppress the fire when the building began to deteriorate causing the roof and back wall to collapse,” Chief Quattrocchi continued. “After the collapse, two more fires were reported a block away from the initial incident on Main Street.”

According to the Fire Chief, those fires were quickly suppressed with only minor damage to residential yards.

As efforts continued through the evening, volunteers with the Trimble House opened the building to allow emergency crews a brief respite from the intense heat and time to grab drinking water. Donations and volunteers flooded in from the community to help support the emergency crews with food and drinks.

That show of support made a huge difference for the 60 emergency personnel at the scene.

“I want to say thank you to our community,” Chief Quattrocchi added. “I speak for everyone that was involved on the scene, with more than words can express, we all greatly appreciate it and thank you.”

He also added a “huge thank you” to the Trimble House for opening its doors and to every organization and person who made donations or asked if they needed anything or just simply thanked them.

“It’s a proud moment for us and showed how amazing it is to live in our small community.”

According to the report, crews gained control of the fire around 7:19 that night with only small hot spots remaining.

By 11:00 that night, the commanding officer on the scene began releasing departments.

Chief Quattrocchi apologized for the inconvenience and steady smoke continuing to escape from the building.

“Fire officials are continuing to monitor the scene for any changes,” he said. “When the roof and floors collapsed, voids containing fire were created in areas where crews are unable to safely apply water. City officials along with myself have been discussing ways to safely and efficiently control the fire and smoke.”

They encourage anyone who spots fire or embers exiting the building to immediately call 911; however, they are aware of the smoke and working on ways to control it.  

The cause of the fire is still under investigation as of March 2, 2021

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