Developing: Fire
9:35 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Five-alarm fire in Midtown apartment building

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Updated 3:45 p.m. City fire chief Dennis Jenkerson says the cause of the fire is not suspicious, and building appears to be up to code:

"The question that came up was the draft stops up in the attic, and in reviewing the plans, and also we sent firefighters over there this morning and we went up in the attics of the remaining buildings, and all buildings had the draft stops as required. This was just a very hot and quick-moving fire."

Jenkerson says the sprinkler system and fire alarms worked as planned. There were no sprinklers in the attic, but those are not required by the building code.

As we noted below, the Memphis-based owner, EdR Collegiate Housing, has declared the building a total loss, and will be refunding current and future rents and deposits. But a spokeswoman for the company says no decision has been made about the fate of the remainder of the building.

Updated 12:50 p.m. The city's streets department says one lane in each direction of Lindell west of Vandeventer is open - but they are suggesting drivers use Forest Park if they are traveling through.

Updated 11:38 a.m. with information from 3949 Apartments' Facebook page

The Facebook Page for 3949 Apartments posted this message just before 11 a.m.
Credit (via Facebook)

From the posting on 3949 Apartments' Facebook page (at right) it appears that those currently living in the building or those planning to do so will need to find other arrangements.

In case it's difficult for you to read, it says:

Current & Future Residents, we are now able to say that the entire building has been destroyed. We will be refunding all of July's rent, all deposits and pre-paid items. Checks can be picked up from us on Friday this week. A letter will be going out to assist with insurance claims. 
All leases current and future will be cancelled at this time.

Updated 10:44 p.m. with details and comments  from St. Louis City Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.

  • The fire department was alerted around 7 p.m. of a heavy fire.
  • The fire started on the fourth floor, but all floors have been damaged.
  • No deaths have been reported in the 197-unit building. Approximately 100 people were evacuated, and the remainder were not home at the time.
  • The fire spread on the roof of the building. Fire crews made cuts in the roof and sprayed water to the interior of the building to fight the fire.
  • Between fire departments in St. Louis City and County about 160 firefighters were on the scene. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that two were treated for heat exhaustion, as temperatures were above 90 degrees for most of the night.

On how the fire spread

“What happened was the fire got in the roof and when (firefighters) got here there was a very heavy fire load and it was starting to travel.”

On fire containment

“We’ll be out here all night.  This is going to take a while to clean up. We’ve got to do some mop ups and take a look around and do another search  to make sure everything’s been checked.”

On how the building’s structure contributed to the spread of the fire

“There’s always threat of more collapse.  This is lightweight construction, it doesn’t hold up like some of the older buildings. That’s why it burns so quick.” 

Where displaced residents can go for help

The American Red Cross is helping displaced residents with their immediate needs at 4050 Lindell Blvd. Wednesday. Those who cannot visit the help area on Lindell on Wednesday can call 314.516.2800 for further assistance.

Saint Louis University students displaced by the fire are invited to stay in Marguerite Hall, the University's official Twitter account says. They can call the University's Department of Public Safety and Security Services or Residence Life for help.

Updated 10:19 p.m. with information about information in city records on building, ownership.

Firefighters are battling a large blaze in St. Louis tonight at 3949 Lindell Blvd.

As of 9:11 p.m. St. Louis Fire Department Public Information Officer Capt. Dan Sutter provided St. Louis Public Radio with the following information:

  • Sutter believes everyone had been evacuated from the building.
  • Fire damage appears to be contained to the fourth floor, though smoke and water damage will be extensive.
  • It was much too early to determine the cause of the fire.

Officials then asked the crowd gathered outside the building to move farther away, to avoid any injury were the building to collapse.

As the St. Louis Business Journal reported in 2007, the building was also previously destroyed by fire. That fire was deemed "suspicious" by officials.

City records show that a sprinkler system was installed in the building following the 2007 fire.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that ownership of the building was transferred in January to Education Realty Trust, based in Memphis.

We will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

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