Smoky fire in downtown Wilmington [video]

A two-alarm fire in downtown Wilmington forced evacuations of stores and businesses, as thick smoke reduced visibility on city streets.

Sixty-eight firefighters and emergency personnel were dispatched to 201 W. 4th St. at 11:40 this morning. There, flames engulfed the Gross Lighting and Bulb Center store located on the corner of 4th and Orange streets.

In addition to dousing the light store, firefighters also poured water on adjacent buildings, including the structure that houses Downtown Visions. Downtown Visions workers help clean city streets and provide security patrols for the downtown area. The fire also appeared close to the building that houses Downtown Visions’ security monitoring system, which operates dozens of surveillance cameras throughout the city.

Wilmington Fire Captain Richard Danner said while the fire is contained, it is still not under control. 

“At this point the fire has been confined to the fire building. This particular building runs a little bit deeper, but it has stayed within the particular building of origin,” Danner said. “There was smoke in the other buildings, but we haven’t had an opportunity right now to get in there and really evaluate what extent of damage.”

There are no reported injuries. Capt. Danner said the building was unoccupied at the time. 

“I do have some information from L&I that on  June 13, 2012, they did close the building and condemn it as an unsafe structure. So since that date, this has been a closed building.”

Both the Wilmington fire marshall and the state fire marshall are investigating what caused this morning’s fire. 

All roads surrounding the scene have been shut down and those in nearby buildings, including a number of children at the Salvation Army have been evacuated. Parents needing to pick up their kids from the Salvation Army’s day camp should go to the Kuumba Academy cafeteria.  

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