Meridian Star

January 9, 2013

Investigation into Threefoot Building fire under way

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     A fire in the Threefoot Building was quickly extinguished Monday night by firefighters of the Meridian Fire Department and now an investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.

    MFD Chief Anthony Clayton said Tuesday afternoon fire marshals and investigators have been going over the scene of the fire.

    "We have taken some samples and physical evidence and sent them to the state crime lab for analysis," said Clayton. "We are looking for anything that will lead us to the cause of the fire."

    At about 11 p.m. Monday, Clayton said a passerby called 911 Central Dispatch saying there were flames coming from a window on the 12th floor of the building. Several stations of the MFD were sent to the downtown location on 22nd Avenue and Clayton said they were prepared for the worst.

    "The firefighters had their high rise packs, meaning they had the equipment they would need to fight a fire that was in a multiple story building," Clayton said. "We sent in a reconnaissance team armed with fire hoses and extinguishers."

    Clayton said members of the recon team had to force the front doors open as they are always kept locked. When the firemen reached the fire on the 12th floor of the building, they found the flames confined to a section of one room. The firemen were able to douse the flames with fire extinguishers.

    Clayton said while the recon team was going up to the 12th floor the battalion chief was setting up a staging area on the ground from which firefighters could respond. Clayton said the department's ladder truck was on the scene if needed.

    "Fighting a high rise building like the Threefoot presents a whole other set of challenges than the normal structure fire we routinely face," said Clayton. "It is a whole other animal."

    That is why, Clayton said, they train to carry hoses up multiple flights of stairs and drill on communication and staging techniques.

    The Threefoot Building is the tallest building in the city, standing 16 stories tall. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Dec. 18, 1979, under the Meridian Multiple Property Submission, and it was listed as a Mississippi Landmark in 2008.

    It was built in 1929 as Meridian's Art Deco Center. After Meridian's first mall was built in the 1970s, the city began to focus less on economic development downtown, so the building's tenants began to evacuate. The site was added to the America's Most Endangered Places in 2010.