Crews quickly extinguish Marshfield fire
BY MIKE WARREN
MARSHFIELD — Fire crews were called Aug. 20 to a building in Marshfield’s downtown, housing three ground-level businesses and five second-story apartments.
A general fire alarm coming from 105 E. Third Street alerted the Marshfield Fire & Rescue Department at 9:15 a.m., according to Deputy Chief Troy Weiland.
“Upon arrival we had black smoke coming from a hole from the basement area on the Third Street side of the building,” Weiland told Hub City Times at the scene. “So, crews made entry. They were met with heavy, black smoke. We initiated an interior attack to find the fire. They found a fire in the basement and extinguished the fire and we are in the process of ventilating the structure and all of the adjacent businesses,” Weiland added.
Most of the smoke appeared to be coming from the basement beneath the War Room Museum & World History, 253 S. Central Ave., owned and operated by Tyler Smazal, who said he had stopped in at the museum about 45 minutes before the fire alarm was received.
“We just stopped in to kind of do our normal check on everything. Make sure everything was okay. Walked out the door, 30 seconds we were in there, and gone maybe 30 minutes and then I got the phone call,” Smazal told Hub City Times on scene.
The building also houses Nail Artistry, 103 E. Third St. and The Clippe Jointe, 107 E. Third St., along with five apartments. The building is owned by Chris and Erin Howard, Marshfield, who purchased it in 2013.
“We bought it a couple years after they had a fire in the back,” Chris Howard told us on scene. “Everybody got out safe. That’s what matters most,” Chris added. “I don’t know what to feel yet. I’m still numb.”
The building was built in 1910, according to online City of Marshfield property records.
The adjacent Merle Norman & The Day Spa Boutique, 249 S. Central Ave., received smoke and water damage as well.
Those buildings are just one block west of 211 S. Maple Ave., where fire destroyed the former Wesley United Methodist Church on Sept. 2, 2018. The congregation celebrated the opening of its new church in July 2020.
As for the church’s neighbors to the west, Weiland said a box alarm went out to call in off-duty personnel and area departments for assistance, either at the scene or to cover the Marshfield department in case of other calls.
“Our initial response was with nine (Marshfield) personnel,” Weiland told us.
“The black smoke, it was laminar, meaning that it’s very low flow, which tells us that the fire is likely in the incipient stage, meaning it’s in the early portion of the fire and it also tells us that it’s likely plastics or something heavy with hydro-carbons that’s on fire because of the black smoke,” Weiland added.
He did not identify an initial cause of the fire or dollar amount of damage.
“Unfortunately these businesses downtown, a lot of the basements are attached, meaning that all that smoke works its way to the adjacent businesses. That’s why it’s taking us so long to systematically go through and ventilate each business and structure,” Weiland said. “So, all the adjacent businesses are going to have minimum smoke damage.
“Basement fires are very difficult to attack because you are going down where the smoke and everything is coming out, so they’re a very dangerous fire attack,” Weiland continued. “What we did is set up so that we were using ventilation to our advantage to help protect what we could. All signs indicated this fire was in the early part of the fire and so we were able to make entry and get it out quickly.”
Weiland said his crews were on the scene within “a couple minutes” after receiving the initial alarm.
“We were originally dispatched to the wrong address,” Weiland told us. “We were originally dispatched to 501 E. Third Street, so that did slow our response. Then we got a call from dispatch that it was actually over here.
“There are apartments upstairs. We made sure we evacuated those right away,” Weiland added.
“Mostly smoke (damage) and there’s gonna be heat damage,” he said. “They didn’t use a lot of water to put this fire out, but it did take awhile to find the fire because they had zero visibility with that heavy, black smoke, and these buildings are unique configurations, to say the least.”