Converted warehouse in Caldwell a total loss after 3-alarm fire early Thursday

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comFebruary 20, 2014 

Firefighters from eight departments in the Treasure Valley battled a warehouse blaze at Crookham Co. in Caldwell for hours early Thursday morning, preventing it from spreading to two other buildings. No one was in the building at the time of the three-alarm fire, and there were no reported injuries.

An alarm in a building at 301 W. Warehouse St. summoned firefighters at about 4:45 a.m.

When they arrived, they saw smoke coming from a 20,000-square-foot building — a warehouse that was converted for multiple uses, including an employee gym, according to Caldwell Fire Chief Mark Wendelsdorf.

Crew made entry into the building, and they encountered smoke indicating that the fire had been burning for a while, possibly hours, Wendelsdorf said. A thermal imager showed high temperatures behind and up to the ceiling, so personnel were pulled out of the building and they began defensive operations. "This type of building is called a widowmaker — there's no easy way out if something were to go wrong," Wendelsdorf said.

Firefighters from Caldwell, Nampa, Middleton, Parma, Wilder, Eagle, Star and Meridian battled the fire. Canyon County Paramedics set up a rehab station, so that firefighters could be monitored medically.

"In situations like this, it's not uncommon for firefighters to overexert," Wendelsdorf said. "We rotate crews, and they're monitored medically."

Wendelsdorf said the primary objective was to prevent the fire from spreading to one building that shares a wall with the warehouse, and another building just a couple feet away.

They used three ladder trucks to knock the fire down. It took 2 to 2 1/2 hours to contain the fire, but they did prevent it from spreading to neighboring buildings.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The chief said it appears the fire did start in the section of the building where the gym is located.

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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