A late Friday night fire continues to burn into the night at the Preston Place condos located at 6255 W. Northwest Highway (map). The three-story, 60-unit complex is located between the Athena and Preston Tower high-rises on the north side of Northwest Highway near Preston Road … very near the new Transwestern Laurel apartments currently under construction.
Update 8:30am: Morning shows the extent of the damage. The entire perimeter of the roof and top floor units show signs of fire damage. Northwest Highway remains closed. Steam and smoke are still being carried by the wind. It appears no embers spread to neighboring complexes. I’m no insurance adjuster, but the building looks like a total loss.
Some nine hours after starting, firefighters still battle small blazes. The northeast corner still visibly burns.
Update 10:30am: Smoke continues to clear and the extent of the damage revealed. We were also alerted that last night good neighbors Preston Tower opened their community room to displaced homeowners and the Red Cross to coordinate aid.
FINAL Update 3:45pm: Not much has changed visually since this morning. Major flames are gone with the occasional flare-up (left side looked extinguished at 10:30am but has flared back). Steam and smoke will billow for hours to come. You know how it is, turn over an “extinguished” log only to find red-hot embers.
What has changed are the number of news vans seeking to eke out a story by invading victims’ pain on the worst day of their lives. A tear-stained face and a few choked-up words are chum to a voyeuristic public.
Northwest Highway has reopened and the Lookie-Lous are out.
Earlier I ran into Councilwoman Jennifer Gates who was seeking to aid her constituents on such a sad day. Lives may not have been lost, but for these residents, life’s contents are now ash.
Certainly there will be more to report on this catastrophe and CandysDirt.com will he there. New items will be posted in stand-alone stories.
(Back to original report …)
What started as a few emergency vehicles quickly grew to dozens as the fire spread from unit to unit eventually encompassing five window segments of the rear, easterly face of the building bordering the Diplomat. The fire started about 11:30 p.m.
From Fox 4 …
Map of the area …
Obviously with the fire still active, a cause and extent of damage remain unknown. However, I can say that in addition to the typical yellow-orange flames, bursts of blue flames were visible which may indicate natural gas was factor or simply in the fire’s path. Old listings show electric kitchens but also fireplaces which may have been gas.
You can see here the extent of emergency support vehicles lining Northwest Highway. It’s unknown from how far away fire departments were called to what became a 7-alarm fire. It spread quickly bottom-to-top and then moved side-to-side engulfing neighboring units. At one point, a helicopter was circling the area to shine high-intensity light on the operation.
Preston Place was built in 1979 and appears to be wood construction versus concrete. Originally a high-rise was slated for the lot. Recent sales have been in the $200-$300,000 range, and the sole unit on the market now is asking $129,900. The fire seems to be spreading southward from the original flashpoint, likely following joists into adjoining units and roof supports.
This tragedy unfolds as I write. In the photo above you can see sections of the exterior have collapsed and fire is now active in the inner courtyard. The chimney stack visible in the first picture has collapsed into the building. Crews are trying to limit the fire’s march into other units.
1:06am Update: As you can see above, the fire has jumped the staircase marking the halfway point front-to-back and now includes two additional window banks. The original location of the fire has also now largely collapsed. Fire crews are trying to get the blaze under control but the fire continues to spread. Power is also restored to neighboring buildings cut for safety reasons.
2:20am Update: Over half the building appears to be burning. A large section of the northeast section has collapsed. The fire has spread across the back/north side of the structure and across to the rear western portion. With no end in sight, the whole structure may be lost. At the very least all units have been damaged by either water or smoke.
2:30am Update: The front Northwest Highway side (southern) has begun to burn as fire spreads around the corner. Fire hoses snake across Northwest Highway (closed) to battle the blaze.
3:00am Update: Ariel view of the blaze. As you can see the southwest section of the building is, so far, the only section seemingly not actively burning. Of course you can see there’s a light wind tonight and fire fighters are on the lookout for any embers being carried to neighboring buildings.
3:45am Update: The fire continues to travel south on the western side of the building further reducing the size of the unburnt section. Firefighters continue to try to halt the fire’s progress, but it’s clear the building will be a total loss. In addition, the partially underground garage … with cars visible … is flooded with sections possibly under rubble.
Our next report will be after sunrise.
Preston Place in happier days …
CandysDirt.com will continue to update this story as needed.
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