DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Fire broke out in a vacant downtown Dallas office building but emergency crews quickly put out the blaze that had forced the closure of nearby streets.
Dallas Fire & Rescue Lt. Joel Lavender said nobody was hurt in the fire reported around midday Wednesday at the corner of Pacific and Griffin. Authorities are trying to determine what started the blaze in the building being renovated to open as a Homewood Suites hotel. Numerous workers were inside the building as flames broke out.
Joe Schilling actually heard about it from one of the responding firefighters. “They told us,” he said adding, “We were going into the superintendent’s office and they told us the building was on fire and to get out and that’s what we done.”
Another worker, Rafael Lopez, was eating lunch with his colleagues when they heard glass breaking, and watched a co-worker run by. “We thought somebody fell out of the building or something. And we seen a lot of smoke started coming out – smoke – and we just hold our breath and ran out of the building.”
He said he was glad they were eating on the first floor and not the fifth, where the flames broke out. “I’m lucky to be out here; it could’ve been different. What if we’d been on that floor or something? It could’ve all happened differently.”
Black smoke could be seen pouring from the fifth floor – about midway up the structure – during the height of the blaze. Fire department personnel used an adjacent building to reach the burning area and extinguish the fire. But they also had to set up ladder units atop the busy Downtown Dallas DART rail lines. “They wanted to use a portion of our track and a place to stage the fire,” explained DART spokesman Morgan Lyons, “So we’ve shut down through Downtown Dallas.”
DART suspended nearby rail service due to the activity of emergency personnel. Most service had resumed by 3:45 p.m. but delays were extended through the rush hour.
The building is currently owned by operated by Irving-based Lowen Hospitality. Hotel General Manager Mindy Dennis says it’s unknown if workers were using any flammable materials when the fire broke out.
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