ST. LOUIS • Firefighters were battling a three-alarm fire that began early Thursday at a vacant warehouse in the city's Tower Grove East neighborhood and spread to surrounding buildings.
A few firefighters were overcome by heat, but otherwise authorities reported no injuries. Several explosions could be heard coming from inside the warehouse. Neighbors in adjacent homes were evacuated safely.
The fire in the 3400 block of Juniata Street in south St. Louis was reported before 3 a.m. Thursday. The fire spread to at least one adjacent home on Juniata and at least two garages and several cars. A woman on the second floor of a four-family flat to the east of the warehouse said fire destroyed her apartment and she lost everything.
Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said the first crews on the scene saw heavy fire coming from the building and went inside. There were a few explosions while they were inside, but the firefighters weren't hurt. They asked for more manpower. About that time, the rear of the building fell down in the alley and knocked down power lines.
"We've got about a two square block of the city without power because all of the lines that got knocked down in the alley," Jenkerson said.
Ameren reports about 80 customers without power.
The warehouse on Juniata Street is close to Arkansas Avenue, about a block and a half east of South Grand Boulevard.
Terrell Kinnard, 28, lives in the 3400 block of Hartford almost directly behind the warehouse that was on fire. He said the fire woke him up.
"I heard the booms," he said. He smelled the smoke and heard screams outside.
Kinnard grabbed his 11-month-old daughter and ran downstairs to tell his sister and her boyfriend to get out.
"When I looked out my window, all I saw was flames shooting into the air," Kinnard said.
He has lived in the home for two years and works as an electrician for the city of St. Louis.
He and his family escaped injury. A shed behind his home burned; his sister's car that was parked in an alley burned, and he's unsure how much of his home was damaged.