Clean-up operations in the affected areas of Sullivan Street Friday morning, under the watchful eye of Miami Chief of Police Keith Thompson. Photo by Carol Broeder.
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UPDATE: Sullivan Street Fire Rips the Heart out of Historic Downtown Miami

UPDATE: Miami Chief of Police Keith Thompson and Globe Fire Marshal Joe Bracamonte said in an Oct. 10 press release that the cause of last month’s Sullivan Street fire is undetermined due to several factors, including extensive fire damage, the size of the fire, the collapse of two of the structures, and the complexity of the fire.

Thompson and Bracamonte, along with investigators from the Timber Mesa (in Show Low) and Florence Fire Departments, conducted a thorough investigation as to the cause of the Sept. 19 fire in downtown Miami, according to the statement released Thursday by the Miami Police Department.

While the fire broke out in the darkness at about 2 a.m., 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. Unfortunately, the buildings that housed Coleman Tax Service and the Central Arizona Council on Developmental Disabilities were destroyed in the Sept. 19 fire.

Tri-City Fire District Battalion Chief A.J. Howell was one of five fire chiefs on the scene during the Sept. 19 fire on Sullivan Street that devastated five historic buildings in downtown Miami and left a swath of damage and charred dreams.

As such, Howell can give us details about the many resources necessary to battle the blaze in the wee hours of Thursday morning and into the next day.

Fire crews were on the scene from just before 2:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 19, he said.

At the peak of the fire, about 46 personnel were on the scene, including all five chief officers from Tri-City/Globe, Howell said. “We also handled five additional calls for service during this incident—four medical calls and one gas leak.”

Of the four responding fire departments, Payson and Tonto Basin each sent an engine and three personnel. He said tri-City and Globe Fire each brought a ladder truck, which operated most of the morning.

In addition, two engine companies from Tri-City and one from Globe battled the blaze. Two Tri-City ambulances also responded to the scene.

“We originally requested Superstition Fire (in Apache Junction) for an additional ladder truck, but cancelled them within 30 minutes of that request,” Howell said. 

When the water situation became critical at about 7 a.m., the command post began a water shuttle operation, involving five water tenders—two each from Tri-City and 5-D Mining along with one from Freeport McMoRan, Howell said.

The operation provided an additional 100,000 gallons of water to the scene.

Howell described FMI as instrumental in coordinating the mine water tenders, escorting them to and from the scene for public safety.

An estimated total of 600,000-700,000 gallons of water was used to battle the blaze, he said.

The Miami Police Department and Gila County Sheriff’s Office provided scene control, allowing firefighters to concentrate on their jobs, Howell said.

Local business also pitched in, keeping emergency personnel fed and hydrated, he said.

Asked which of the fire chiefs was incident commander, Howell replied, “At one point, we kind of operated a unified command post.”

“All five chiefs were in and out, sharing in the operation,” giving them the ability “to get out and move around the scene, to be able to monitor all operations and share different ideas in the decision-making process,” he said.

Doing so also allows different officers to step away, becoming liaisons with public officials as well as coordinating area resources such as law enforcement, FMI, Arizona Public Service, the Town of Miami, the City of Globe, Southwest Gas and so on, Howell said. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, he said Friday.

In the meantime, clean-up operations are taking place in the affected areas of Sullivan Street in historic downtown Miami.

One comment

  1. As regulars to Sullivan Antiques, Guayos and the events in Miami, we are so sad and can only hope this is an opportunity for Miami to pull together and grow. So grateful no one was hurt.

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