The massive fire that broke out over the weekend in St. Paul is being investigated as arson, the fire department said on Monday.
Deputy Chief Roy Mocoso said Saturday night the fire destroyed commercial buildings in the 1400 block of Selby Avenue, near Ayde Mill Road and Hamline Avenue. There were about four warehouses.
According to Mokoso, the fire and police departments are investigating after video cameras from around the area captured “arson-related activities”.
Police are asking anyone with information to call 651-266-5400. No arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon.
According to a statement from the fire department, “vehicles, auto parts and tires started a major fire at the commercial site, producing plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles.”
There were no casualties in the three alarm fires. Mokoso said a total of 86 firefighters were used to douse the fire – the department’s daily staff is 115, “so it was a tremendous strain on resources.”
Firefighters answered a call to 911 at 5:43 p.m. Saturday and found flames coming from a large industrial complex. The buildings have the addresses of 1400 Dayton Avenue, 1415 Selby Avenue and 1427 Selby Avenue.
It took more than 21 hours, including the use of heavy equipment to clear the pile of burning debris, to bring the fire under control.
The main fire was difficult to extinguish because at least one building had a large amount of piled tires. Fire Chief Butch Inc. said on Sunday that the tires burn hot, and that while they were in the blaze, they were taken to extinguish the small fire below.
While no fire is ideal, fires involving tires are the most “pathetic” to fight because they “burn really hot” and “burn for a long time,” Inc. said.
The Selby Avenue bridge on Ayde Mill Road was closed as “a standard safety precaution due to the proximity of the fire”, according to a St. Paul Public Works spokesman, who said the city’s bridge engineering staff completed the inspection on Monday morning. and “no significant damage has been done.”
According to a university representative, the fire spread to 1397 Selby Avenue, which is on the campus of Concordia University and used for storage, and damaged two vehicles, some supplies and the building.
At the industrial complex, the fire department coordinated with the St. Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspection to dismantle the partially collapsed walls and remove dangerous debris, Mokoso said.
The fire department said they doused the fire at the same location in 2007 and 2017.
According to the department, the godowns were registered as vacant cities in 2019, and the DSI has conducted regular checks and monitoring. DSI records indicate that there have been enforcement actions and orders, including garbage, dumping and some graffiti complaints, for which the owner/property representative has been liable.
Christy Belcamino contributed to this report.