UPDATED to add info from the fire department at 3:45 p.m.
Fire broke out this morning around 9 a.m. in a two-story warehouse at Arsenal and Kingshighway.
St. Louis Fire Department Captain Dan Sutter tells Daily RFT that by the time his crews were called to the scene, the building was "well involved" in fire. The building, which is owned by nearby Modern Kitchen & Bath and ostensibly used for storage, appears to be a total loss, he says.
That's the bad news. The good news is that no one was killed, much less injured -- even the firefighters who were forced to battle the frighteningly hot blaze on this incredibly hot day.
The department took pains to avoid any heat-related injuries, Sutter says, setting up a "rehab" facility at the nearby Royale bar and restaurant, giving workers a chance to cool off between stints in close proximity to the blaze. "It gets hot very quickly, especially when you're working at an intense pace," he says.
The fire was almost certainly an accident; Sutter says a workman doing upgrades to the building was using some sort of gas-powered sprayer, and it appears that vapors ignited while he was refueling the machine. (Here's an important public-service announcement: Don't use gas-fueled engines in closed environments. And don't ever refuel a hot engine, even the one on your lawnmower. "These vapors and gases can ignite," Sutter warns.)
The blaze burned near a residential area, triggering so much interest that our correspondent reports seeing a phalanx of neighbors capturing images on their phones and cameras. When the local news crew finally arrived at the scene with their professional-grade cameras, an onlooker with an iPhone shouted to them, "Too late. We're already Youtubing it." Ah, the joys of citizen journalism!
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