Two fires just minutes apart, Delaware fire officials searching for cause

Wilmington Fire officials are trying to determine the cause of two early morning building fires that occurred just minutes apart.

According to Battalion Chief Michael Schaal, the first fire broke out around 5:48 a.m. at a home on the 1100 block of Heald Street.

Neighbor’s called in the fire at the vacant brick home.

“There was heavy fire on the first floor when they arrived on the scene,” said Schaal. “They were able to knock that out pretty quick.”

Ten minutes later, the fire department received another call about a fire at the University & Whist Club on the other side of the city.

“I was on my way to the other fire when that came in,” said Schaal. “An ambulance was driving by and saw some fire coming from the loading dock.”

He said crews were also able to contain that fire quickly.

“Luckily, it’s a masonry contained area and the only access to the building is a steel fire door so the fire was kept from entering the building,” he said.

Crews have already starting cleaning out the fire-damaged area and new drywall was delivered to the club this afternoon.

The club is still open for regular business including the crab fest dinner scheduled for this evening.

Schaal said they do not believe the fires are related. Investigators are still piecing together evidence from both fires and Schaal said random early morning fires are “always suspicious.”

He added that August has been an unusually busy month for the department.

“We’ve had a lot of active fires we’ve had to respond to this month,” he said. “Good thing is, we’ve been able to contain them.”

On Monday firefighters battled an active fire at the former Coach House restaurant in Claymont. The Delaware Fire Marshal’s office ruled that fire as arson.

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