Three-alarm fire ravages Joel building - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Three-alarm fire ravages Joel building

SPOKANE, Wash. - Right now, emergency crews remain on scene of a three-alarm fire in downtown Spokane at the historic Joel building.  The fire is under control but continues to burn. Two fire companies will stay on scene through the night to make sure the fire doesn't flare back up.

According to fire officials on scene, the fire started in the basement of the Joel building around 4:30 a.m. Before long, the fire had spread to the upper levels of the Joel building that also houses Churchill's Restaurant. KHQ reporter Sean Owsley was live at 7:40 a.m. when flames shot from the front door of the building. Soon after, flames were seen shooting out of the roof of the building.

At one point during the fire, firefighters were dumping at least 1,000 gallons of water per minute onto the fire.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaffer says crews will be on scene for at least 12 hours. He added it is rare that the Spokane Fire Department responds to three-alarm fires and they want to make sure that this doesn't grow into something that would require even more assistance. Schaffer also noted the brick building works like a chimney, heating the fire and making it much more dangerous for firefighters.

No one was in the building when the fire broke out, however one firefighter had to be carried out after fire crews believe he fell through a hole in the building's floor. Schaffer says old buildings are notorious for having structurally unsound floors and a fire would make them even less safe. That firefighter was later seen walking around on crutches and believed to be doing ok.

Right now Wall Street and Post Street are blocked between First and Second Avenues. Also, the right lane of Second from Wall to Lincoln is also closed. WSP Trooper Jeff Sevigney said that traffic in that area will be congested for most of the day as firefighters continue working to contain this fire. Trooper Sevigney said that some people might have the urge to head downtown just to look at the damaged building, but he urged people to avoid that area because they could hamper the firefighting efforts.

Right now there is no word on what caused the fire.

As of 12 p.m. Thursday, crews had stopped pouring water on the building and were using a thermal imaging system to detect hot spots.

Make sure to tune into KHQ Local News 11 at 11 for the very latest developments on the fire.

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