Syracuse, N.Y. – The Syracuse Fire Department battled two major fires during the early morning hours of Sunday, November 22nd. At 12:33 a.m. crews were called to 900 Highland Street for a fire in a vacant house. Units were on scene in just three minutes but the structure was already heavily involved in fire, with flames extending 20 feet above the roof. The heavy volume of fire forced crews to battle the blaze from the exterior. It took nearly 45 minutes to bring the fire under control, and crews remained on scene for several hours extinguishing hot spots. No injuries were reported.
Around 6:00 a.m. the Onondaga County 911 center began receiving multiple calls about a smoke condition near West Street in the downtown area. While checking the area, firefighters discovered a fire in a vacant commercial structure at 205 North West Street. After gaining entry into the building, crews began working to extinguish the heavy volume of fire they encountered. Conditions deteriorated quickly, and the flames became too intense to fight from the inside. Crews were forced to back out of the building and fight the fire from the exterior. During the course of firefighting operations, large sections of the roof collapsed into the structure. As of 10:30am, crews are still on the scene working to completely extinguish the fire. No injuries have been reported.
Both fires are currently under investigation. Fires in vacant structures present significant challenges for firefighters. Because these buildings usually lack working detection or suppression systems, the fires are able to grow substantially before they are noticed and reported. Also, these buildings are often in poor condition, making firefighting operations much more dangerous.