‘Smoke all over’: Massive fire engulfs abandoned downtown Jacksonville building

Investigation into massive fire at old funeral home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATED 1/10/2021:

Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted Sunday morning that last nights fire on Union and Main will still impact Downtown Jacksonville today.

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Original Story 1/09/2021: An abandoned funeral home caught fire on Saturday evening, sending large plumes of smoke and tall flames into the air in downtown Jacksonville. Jacksonville Fire Rescue stated the first reports came at around 5:30 p.m.

Fire officials said smoke and flames were visible from the second floor of the building, and the fire was too heavy for crews to go in. Steve Riska, the chief of operations for JFRD, said the roof and second floor collapsed as well, making the building unsteady.

”This was an extremely dangerous situation [firefighters] were put into,” he said.

Riska said more than 100 firefighters battled the flames from the outside while protecting a nearby 7 Eleven gas station and another building on either side.

There was also a propane tank near the gas station and fuel that could’ve created a deadly situation. HAZMAT worked to keep the tank cool as flames burned, JFRD reported.

”Keeping us from having another problem. A bigger problem than what we had.”

No firefighters were injured, and there was no damage to any of the other buildings in the area. Fire crews do not know what caused the flames but said the state fire marshal is headed to the scene to investigate.

AJ Viera was in the area when the fire first broke out.

”I walked up, and this thing was like huge. It was like wow,” he said. “It was smoke all over the place. South, west, north. Smoke all over the place.”

After about an hour of fighting the flames, Riska said crews were able to get it under control. They will continue to monitor for hot spots throughout the night.

Several blocks of Union and State streets were also shut down, and crews are working to reopen them.

Riska said the abandoned building, has a history of fires in the past. Code Enforcement will check the stability of the building and he suspected it would have to be torn down in the near future.

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