Fire in old medical building during set demolition

Firefighters were especially cautious in the building since it was set to be demolished soon. | SARAI FLORES TTN
Firefighters were especially cautious in the building since it was set to be demolished soon. | SARAI FLORES TTN

Fire fighters were called to a seven story former medical school building at the Temple University Health Sciences campus on the corner of North Broad and Ontario streets at 1:43 p.m. yesterday during a scheduled demolition of the building. More than 100 firefighters were needed to get the blaze under control and no injuries were reported.

A Philadelphia Police public information officer said the fire began on the sixth floor of the building and caused the first fire alarm on that floor to go off after the fire department arrived at the scene around 1:47 p.m. The fire was brought under control 45 minutes later.

“By nature, the building is fire resistant construction steel and concrete,” the public information officer said. “We are always careful when entering a building that’s under any demolition of any type. We moved slowly but surely to investigate what was on fire and then commence our activities for suppression.”

Police blockaded the intersection of Westmoreland Street and Rising Sun Avenue during the fire. Firefighters left the scene around 4:22 p.m.

The 30,000 square foot building had been under demolition since March of this year and all former Temple employees had been moved out of the building between three and four months ago. The project for the demolition of the building had been approved by the university’s Board of Trustees in November 2012 on a $7.45 million budget.

“There were no Temple employees in the building,” said Ray Betzner, who is associate vice president for executive communications at Temple University. “The folks who were in that facility were the people who worked for the contracting firm to bring [the building] down. Right now there are no plans for that space but that’s part of the broader campus planning process.”

The cause of the fire has not been determined and is still under investigation.

Sarai Flores can be reached at sarai.abisag.flores@temple.edu or on Twitter @saraiaflores.

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