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Downtown Miami loses five historic structures in early morning fire

Fire rising into the sky. Approximately 3 a.m. Photo by Carol Broeder

Sullivan Street residents awakened to a huge blaze engulfing about half a block in historic downtown Miami during the wee hours Thursday morning. Neighbors took to the streets in nightclothes, worrying that, with the aging buildings so close together, burning embers would land on the roofs of other structures and burn down all of downtown Miami.

Some residents sought higher ground to keep watch over the roofs as flames licked the darkness and a pall of smoke settled on the little valley.The light of day revealed that historic downtown Miami had lost five of its circa 100-year-old commercial buildings.

Firefighters from Tri-City, Globe, Tonto Basin and Payson worked together to save local businesses in direct line of the fire including Miami Rose Antiques, Sullivan Street Antiques and Inspired by Time Antiques.

There were harrowing moments, such as when a tree on Keystone Avenue near the Bloody Tanks Wash became fully engulfed along with the buildings. From the Inspiration Avenue bridge, residents watched burning embers float into the foliage-lined wash, only to witness firefighters quickly extinguish them. Ash snowed down on everything in that part of downtown and an occasional mist from the water hoses used to battle the blaze dampened dazed onlookers.

In a statement issued Sept. 19, Miami Chief of Police Keith Thompson gave the following account:

At 2:20 a.m., the Gila County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Miami Police Department about previous 911 calls reporting heavy smoke on Miami Avenue and Live Oak Street, as well as smoke and possible flames in front of the Wild Horses Saloon on Sullivan Street.

Arriving on scene, Miami police found a structure fire at 417 Sullivan St.

Tri-City Fire responded immediately.

“At this time, the fire is under control, however, sadly, the Town of Miami has suffered the loss of five buildings,” Thompson said just before 10 a.m. Thursday.

Miami Avenue through Keystone Avenue is currently closed to all traffic.

The Miami police ask the public to stay away from the area, allowing emergency personnel to further extinguish the fire as well as conduct further investigations, he said.

The following agencies and companies responded to the Sept. 19 fire: Fire Marshal Joe Bracamonte; Tri-City, Globe, Payson and Tonto Basin Fire Departments; Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold; 5-D Mining; Arizona Department of Transportation; Arizona Water Company; Arizona Public Service; Southwest Gas; Gila County Sheriff’s Office and the Globe Police Department.

Thompson said the fire remains under investigation and further information will be released as it becomes available.

4 comments

  1. Avatar

    I was praying everyone is safe Sorry ste up a gofund me Miami.All that matters is no one is injured and the disability groups are safe Thank you all that helped praying the firefighters are safe thank you and God Bless you.

  2. Avatar

    Miami was my home town . Was raised there and always walked the town to the pool , park, and just the area. Family is from there . This is so sad . Thankfully no one was seriously hurt. Thank u to all the ones who helped .
    Roseann(Hinojos) Palomino

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    This was painful to read, however, given the age, probably ancient wiring, and proximity, it is not a complete surprise, but it is a surprise no one was killed or injured. Old buildings such as these go up like cracker boxes. God bless the firemen who put their own safety aside to protect life, home, and business, and God bless and help those who owned buildings and businesses in that area.

  4. Avatar

    Nice article Carole. Good job writing about a sad but historic time. Very descriptive.

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