Fire damages old warehouse

Light rail service cut during Woodberry blaze

no injuries reported

January 06, 2004|By Jamie Stiehm and Richard Irwin | Jamie Stiehm and Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

A two-alarm fire damaged a brick warehouse in an industrial park along the Jones Falls yesterday afternoon, disrupting light rail service as city firefighters briefly closed the nearby Woodberry station, authorities said.

No one was inside the three-story building in the 1700 block of Union Ave. when the fire occurred, police said. The cause, police said, appeared to be fumes from cans of paint coming into contact with a heat source in the building, which according to state records is owned by the Time Group realty firm.

Fire Department spokesman James Gardner said the building had deteriorating wood floors, which made it difficult for firefighters to enter when they arrived about 3 p.m. The fire was brought under control by 3:45 p.m.

No injuries were reported.

Several motorists on the Jones Falls Expressway spotted smoke rising out of the structure and called to report the fire. More than 60 firefighters were sent to fight the blaze, with extra equipment and manpower needed because of the size of the building, Gardner said.

The warehouse is in a remote spot of the Jones Falls Valley that was once a thriving center of mills and other industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Nestled between the expressway and light rail tracks, the area on the border of the Hampden and Woodberry communities is undergoing a slow shift to recreational and residential uses.

A half-mile away are charred stones and other remnants of a nine-alarm fire at the Clipper Industrial Park in 1995, which claimed a firefighter's life and injured several others.

Mass Transit Administration officials said buses were used to ferry passengers between the North Avenue and Falls Road rail stops until late afternoon.

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