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Midtown fire displaces 100 people, destroys building

10:42 AM, Jul 18, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis (KSDK) - A five-alarm Midtown fire at a four-story apartment building displaced at least 100 people, near Saint Louis University, Tuesday night.

EdR, the company that manages the building, sent an email that said the entire building is destroyed.  The company plans to refund all of July's rent, all deposits and pre-paid items.  Checks can be picked up on Friday from the company.  Al letter will also be sent out to assist with insurance claims.

The fire marshal is working with the company to inspect the building and find an area where residents may be able to gain future access to the building to retrieve  belongings.

Deputy Assistant Fire Chief Brian Walsh said Wednesday fire officials searched through 170 of the 197 units of the complex and found no victims and had no reports of anyone still missing.

Walsh also said a total of six live pets were rescued from the aftermath of the Midtown fire, including three cats, two dogs, and a hamster. So far, fire officials have not located any pets that perished in the huge blaze, but they anticipate that will change throughout the day.

Firefighters sprayed water on the building Wednesday morning to make sure there were not any hot spots and to prevent it from rekindling.

PHOTOS: Midtown fire damage

Preliminary estimates suggest 120 to 130 of the units are heavily damaged by fire, smoke and water. Another 20 units are destroyed after a portion of the multi-story building collapsed.

EdR, which manages the building, is updating its Facebook page to provide information for displaced residents.

The fire started in a penthouse unit on the fourth floor of the Lindell Apartments, located at 3949 Lindell Boulevard near Vandeventer, shortly after 7 p.m. and went to five alarms by 7:50 p.m.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson held a news conference and said when firefighters arrived, they found a heavy fire on the fourth floor on the far east side. Fire was showing on two sides of the building and immediately went to a second alarm due to the building's size.

Evacuating the 197 unit building became the priority, and around 100 people were evacuated. The number of people who actually occupy the building is unknown, but firefighters believe everyone got out safely.

The fire spread to the roof area, and because of the high heat conditions, ran the roof line east, cut the corner and went north.

Jenkerson said 160 firefighters were on the scene fighting the fire and made two very difficult trench cuts to pour water inside. The fire is under control but spot fires are still burning.

There were a lot of animals inside the building, and firefighters made a second sweep of the building looking for animals and verifying nobody was trapped.

Shortly before 8 p.m. firefighters were evacuated from the building for safety reasons.

Around 9 p.m. people on the scene watching the fire were pushed back by firefighters because they were concerned about the stability of the building after the third and fourth floors collapsed due to the weight of the water.

It appears smoke alarms were working.

The fire started in a fourth floor penthouse, but a cause has not been determined.

A few firefighters went down due to the heat, but they were treated at the scene and expected to be okay. No other injuries were reported.

The apartment building management company posted updates for displaced residents on its Facebook page.

The Holiday Inn Viking hotel sent its shuttle to the scene to pick up 14 displaced residents who needed a place to stay.  Some Midtown fire victims who are students were staying on the Saint Louis University campus.

The Coronado Ballroom is also taking in displaced residents at 3701 Lindell. 

PHOTOS: Five alarm fire burns Midtown apartment building

The Humane Society says pet owners with no place at this time for their pets can bring them to their Macklind location.  People can also call the Humane Society at 314-647-4400 to see if their pet has been located. 

The American Red Cross Disaster Reaction Team is assisting displaced residents.

Five municipal fire agencies from St. Louis County assisted the St. Louis Fire Department on the scene of the blaze. 

Another 10 departments from throughout the metropolitan area assisted by providing manpower at fire stations that were vacated by the five alarm fire call.

In June 2007 this same building caught fire while it was under construction. Federal investigators joined St. Louis firefighters with the investigation, and ruled it arson.  No arrests were made in the case.

The building and a fast food restaurant also under construction at the time were destroyed.

Nobody was seriously injured in that fire.

A helpline for the fire victims has been set up.  People can call 314-446-4501.

KSDK

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