This story was updated on Feb. 2, as new information was provided by local fire officials.
A three-alarm structure fire burned the First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op North Store early Friday morning. Responders arrived at the scene, closing down traffic in the vicinity of 3rd street and Highway 99W.
The three-alarm description of the fire refers to a system in which corresponds to the severity of the fire: the addition of alarms corresponds with the addition of more responders and resources to the scene of a fire.
According to Public Information Officer Patrick Rollens, there were no evacuations or injuries associated with the fire and it was only contained to the store itself.
B Shift Battalion Chief Brett Loomis was on duty when the fire had occurred. He said via email that total resources expended included 7 engines, 4 ladder trucks, 5 chief officers and 3 investigators for a total of 45 fire personnel on scene. All of 3rd Street was closed from approximately 4 am to 6:30 am.
“We opened up 3 lanes of traffic (2 southbound and 1 northbound) at around 6:30 and opened the remaining northbound lane of traffic around 8 AM,” Loomis said. “We initially sent crews inside the structure and they aggressively fought the fire inside for approximately 15 minutes”
However, the fire conditions worsened; Loomis said that flames came through the roof, leading to a partial roof collapse.
“This rendered the building too unsafe for firefighters to enter and we transitioned to a defensive firefighting operation (fighting fire from the outside) and used three of the ladder trucks to flow water along with several handlines to contain the fire,” Loomis said. “At the peak of the operation we were flowing nearly 4000 gallons of water per minute to contain the fire/”
Before clearing the scene, arson investigators investigated through interviews with workers at the store and collection of relevant evidence from the scene. However, they still require several more pieces of information and will finish the investigation within the upcoming days.
“Collection of evidence is a standard process in any investigation and one should not assume that the collection of evidence points to criminal activity,” said Loomis.