CNN BREAKING NEWS
5-Alarm Fire in Factory in North St. Louis
Aired January 16, 2003 - 10:25 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go now to the telephone, Captain Robert Hennickie with the St. Louis Fire Department is on the line with us right now.
Captain, can you tell us more about this fire?
CAPT. ROBERT HENNICKIE, ST. LOUIS DEPT.: Well, it's a five-alarm fire. We've got about 100 firefighters here. Like you've mentioned, it's a foam factory, but there are all kinds of petroleum products in there, so there's heavy fire and heavy smoke. We evacuated everybody, and we're just fighting it from the outside now.
HARRIS: Are you worried about anybody in the vicinity there, because you know, when that foam stuff burns, that stuff can be pretty toxic when it turns into smoke, can't it?
HENNICKIE: Oh, it is toxic. This is a commercial area on Grant Street. There's no -- nobody in the -- occupants anywhere in the area, so we're not really concerned about that. We're more concerned about just the building falling down right now.
HARRIS: We can tell the building is shot. The place is totally gone at this particular point. Do you know if there were any people trapped inside at any point?
HENNICKIE: Well, they were just getting ready to open up for business. They was only a handful of workers when they got here, so they were all outside when we got here.
HARRIS: Was the fire burning when the workers showed up this morning, or did it happen after they got there?
HENNICKIE: Well, we're getting reports of just getting here. I think they turned on some glue tables or something, so they cut foam in there. I think initial reports is we're starting some kind of a glue table. But they were just gearing up to start work.
HARRIS: So what are you going to do, just sit here and let the building burn itself out?
HENNICKIE: Well, at this point, that's pretty much all you can do. Even our the investigation has to -- just by the word of mouth, we'll be talking to the owners and workers, because, of course, we're not going to be able to go inside and do an investigation, and we're just going to fight the fire from the outside.
HARRIS: Tell me something, we've been hearing reports about how close this factory is to I-70. How close is it? Is it within -- well, a matter of a block or two or what?
HENNICKIE: It's about two blocks from grant street. You can see the highway from where I am standing, and I am standing outside the left side of the building.
HARRIS: From where you can see, is the highway still shut down?
HENNICKIE: No, the highway running. The smoke was coming from the east, and it was just almost blanketing the whole highway, so, I mean, visibility was to down almost zero on the highway, so it was shut down for a while, but it's back open again now.
HARRIS: OK, that's good. So, in other words, the traffic on the highway was stopped not because of a threat by the fire, but because of the smoke then?
HENNICKIE: The smoke was so thick coming across the highway, you could only see the front of the hood. The visibility that bad.
HARRIS: Good deal.
And this smoke, as we can see, there's so much of it, and you say this is blowing away, but not near any residential area there?
HENNICKIE: No, no there's no residence here anywhere near here.
HARRIS: Good deal. That's good to hear.
Good luck with fighting this one, Captain Hennickie.
HENNICKIE: Thank you.
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