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Firefighters were battling a blaze at Jim’s Steaks in South Philadelphia that erupted Friday morning and continued to burn into the afternoon, creeping into the restaurant’s HVAC system.
More than 100 firefighters responded to the blaze, but they were struggling to put it out as it appeared the flames were hard to reach as they blasted their way through the HVAC system. building air conditioning, Philadelphia Fire Department Commissioner Adam Thiel said. said at a press conference shortly before 2 p.m.
“We are very concerned about the structural stability of this building. There’s really no way to gauge that,” Thiel said. “So again, we’re taking a defensive posture very cautiously, and hopefully we can preserve as much of the property as possible. possible – at least the building itself.
Firefighters responded to the restaurant at the corner of 4th and South streets after someone reported wires catching fire around 9:15 a.m., Thiel said. Smoke could be seen billowing from every floor of the four-story building as firefighters knocked down windows.
The floors above the cheesesteak shop, a city staple dating back to the 1930s, were empty and are being used for storage, Thiel noted.
A restaurant manager told NBC10 that the air conditioning stopped working in the morning and then started smoking. That’s when she said she got everyone out of the building. Everyone was fine, the manager said.
NBC10’s Miguel Martinez-Valle was at the scene and reported shortly after 11 a.m. that firefighters had been evacuated from the building and those nearby were asked to step back.
Firefighters appeared to be concentrating their efforts on an HVAC unit, spraying it with water from above and below. However, Thiel said, crews weren’t “flooding” the building with water because they thought the fire was in the vents.
The fire was limited to the restaurant, but crews were proceeding with caution due to the risk of the building being structurally unstable.
“This is a very difficult incident and at this time we are trying to balance the risks and benefits to the lives of our firefighters and to protect property here in this iconic building and everywhere attached to it,” Thiel said, referring to an incident in which a firefighter died last month after a building collapsed following another blaze.