Last Monday, more than eighty firefighters from the St. Louis Fire Department responded to a four-alarm fire at the Servco warehouse in downtown St. Louis.
In the end, no one was injured in the blaze, but the warehouse was destroyed. For Greg Gates, whose family owns the building, more than a building was lost.
“There [were] some dreams that maybe died in the flame. But there’s always new dreams to be born tomorrow,” he said. His father bought the building because he wanted to “own a whole city block” and redevelop it someday.
To get the fire under control and stop it from spreading to the surrounding buildings, firefighters were on the scene for hours, fighting not only the smoke and flames but the cold.
“It was very challenging. Three story brick building. And it was a heavy timber set up,” Captain Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department said. He arrived during the second alarm, about seven minutes after the call first went out.
Frozen water lines and numb hands and feet make fighting a fire in the winter more difficult. At the same time, more fires break out in the winter.
Some fires are started in abandoned buildings by homeless people trying to stay warm; others spark from overloaded electrical lines in homes. According to Mosby, space heaters in particular can be dangerous.
“We really try to encourage folks to use the heating source the home was built to support,” Mosby said.
If people are having difficulty paying the higher utility bill, he suggested going to heatupstlouis.org and applying for aid because space heaters should not be used as a primary source of heat.
During the holidays, dry Christmas trees and holiday lights can create additional fire hazards. The St. Louis Fire Department Facebook page has a video with instructions on how to keep your tree watered.
Mosby also stressed the importance of checking smoke detectors monthly, and said that city residents can call the fire department at 314-533-3406 to ask for smoke detectors to be installed in their homes.