Fire tears through row of stores in Baldwin

May 20, 2010 9:22:13 AM PDT
A fast-moving fire ripped through a row of stores in Baldwin Thursday morning. Heavy smoke and flames poured from the building. The fire began inside a building on Grand Avenue and quickly spread, devouring the series of buildings.

The all-volunteer fire department managed to keep the flames from doing more damage. Most of the storefronts and apartments have been vacant since a previous fire in a deli a year and a half ago.

Eyewitness News is told the series of buildings is already condemned and part of a redevelopment project in Baldwin. Still, it was quite a spectacle as the flames spread.

"The flames were just coming out of the top," witness Wendy Fincken said. "It was wild. It's nothing like I've seen in a fire before."

"It's an old building," Baldwin fire commissioner Doug Wiedmann said. "It's been converted and converted and converted. Buildings were opened up. You know, they were two buildings before, now they made it into one. So the fire spread rapidly from building to building."

Several firefighters suffered minor injuries related to smoke inhalation. Authorities say a handful of businesses and apartments in the complex were occupied. Those places mostly suffered water damage. There is no word how many people were affected.

Officials are looking for the cause and trying to determine if the fire was suspicious.