Wednesday , July 24 2024
Fire in historic Harris Building challenges crews aimed at suppression
Courtesy San Bernardino County Fire

Fire in historic Harris Building challenges crews aimed at suppression

San Bernardino County Fire personnel responded to a commercial structure fire at the historic Harris building in the 300 block of North E Street in the city of San Bernardino yesterday. 911 callers stated that people were seen still inside the structure.

Firefighters arrived just before 2:00 p.m. to find the fourth floor of the 270,000 square foot former department store filled with smoke and fire visible from the roof. Crews were immediately met by parties who stated that people were still inside the building. Rescuers made entry to evacuate occupants and locate the seat of the fire.

Debris, damaged stairwells and open elevator shafts combined with low visibility contributed to safety hazards which challenged first responders throughout the incident. Pervasive vandalism contributed to difficulties in accessing areas of fire involvement. To top it all off, the concrete roof and masonry building construction created oven-like conditions for crews with temperatures on the fire floor ranging from 180 to several hundred degrees while the outside temperature hovered at the century mark. This non-stop heat exposure required additional rehabilitation time for fire crews as they continued through the hours long attack.

Over the course of the fire, several transient occupants were located and successfully evacuated from the structure. None reported any injuries. Two firefighters were treated at the scene, and two were transported to local hospitals for evaluation of minor injuries.

Twenty-five engines, five truck companies and several chief officers brought more than 100 fire personnel to the scene. County Fire was assisted by Riverside City, Rialto, Colton, Highland and Redlands Fire Departments.

The fire was declared out at 9:00 p.m. The cause of the fire is under investigation through San Bernardino County’s Office of the Fire Marshal.

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