A five-alarm fire that began just after 11 a.m. Wednesday was still burning early Thursday morning, after sending at least four people to the hospital for smoke inhalation and minor burns while destroying the building.
The warehouse — near 39th Street and Park Avenue — is a block-by-half-block building, according to St. Louis City Fire Chief Garon Patrick Mosby.
“This building was erected in the late 1920s, since then they’ve done a lot of updates,” Mosby said on Wednesday. “The basement is more or less like a maze — to kind of give you an idea.”
A wall collapsed at the warehouse Wednesday afternoon, smashing part of a 13-year-old fire truck. Two firefighters had injuries. One of the buildings collapsed and one person, a warehouse worker, was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
A spokesperson for the fire department told KSDK the truck will cost just under $1 million to replace.
Greg Favre, Missouri Public Safety’s Deputy Director, said he talked to firefighters on Wednesday who told them the warehouse fire was the scariest moment of their careers.
“I don’t think most people realize how close we came to a major tragedy today,” he tweeted.
The building was engulfed by noon Wednesday and by late Wednesday night media reports indicated the fire destroyed toys and blankets intended for children through the Shriner’s Toy Drive.
Other items in the warehouse included a publishing company’s stock of books — mostly by St. Louis authors, KMOV reports — among other various items including 150,000 citronella candles, car seats and Styrofoam.
The smoke plume could be seen for miles, and St. Louis fire officials warned those in its path to turn off their air systems and close their windows.