Above is raw video from the fire at Ridge-Clinton Plaza taken by DemocratandChronicle.com.
Monroe County Fire Wire has fireground audio from both fires and a series of pictures (Video from MCFW below)
UPDATED AT 7:20 PM: Two fires in Rochester, New York today at Family Dollar stores. The first was out quickly. That was not the case at the second fire. It occurred about two miles away and was reported 50-minutes after the first blaze. There is a lookout for a suspect. Firegeezer Bill Schumm has been writing for months about fires at Family Dollar stores and the chain’s similarly named competitors.
In an interview at the bottom of this entry, Rochester Fire Department Chief John Caufield called the second fire one of the fastest moving fires in his career. The chief says the first arriving units had smoke in the building that quickly showed itself as a rapidly advancing fire throughout the building.
A four-alarm blaze in a Rochester Family Dollar store that started around noon today spread through the Ridge-Clinton Plaza.
Rochester Fire Chief John Caufield said the blaze was under control at 5:20 p.m. today, although firefighters will be on the scene throughout the night.
Dozens of fire trucks are at the scene, and the front and rear of the building are fully engulfed, with flames shooting through the roof. Portions of the plaza have collapsed. Heavy black smoke is blanketing the area. The smoke was visible from miles away.
Traffic on Route 104 near the fire site — restricted much of the afternoon — was open again in both directions by 6:30 p.m..
Caufield would not label the fire arson, but he said, “We’re definitely going to look at that. We certainly want to explore that angle.”
He said that a team of investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are expected to arrive in Rochester tomorrow morning to assist in the investigation. Caufield said that they would provide assistance because of the magnitude of the fire and because of the fire reported at a different Family Dollar store about the same time today.
The fire investigators were called on because of “the multimillion-dollar loss here and “We have some questions about the cause of this fire and we need some of their expertise to help us do some of the analysis.” Caufield said.
Dozens of fire trucks are at the scene, and the front and rear of the building were fully engulfed, with flames shooting through the roof. Portions of the plaza have collapsed. Heavy black smoke blanketed the area. The smoke was visible from miles away.
A crowd of nearly 200 onlookers has gathered to watch, many taking photos.
Rochester Fire Lt. Willie Jackson said the fire started around noon at 1731 N. Clinton Ave. More than 60 firefighters from 15 city companies and at least two suburban departments are at the scene, he said.
Jackson said there have been no firefighter or civilian injuries and all customers of plaza businesses were able to escape safely.
A cache of paint, paint thinner and other possibly explosive chemicals was safely removed from the Auto Finishers Supply Co. store in the plaza, Jackson said.
Joe Ignizio, 35, of Greece, co-owns the Fireball Wireless store just two doors down from the Family Dollar. He said he was working in his office in the back of the shop when he heard people rush outside. He was surprised by how quickly the fire moved.
“The flames are in there now,” he said earlier of the store his family has run since 1994. “I didn’t think it would get this far.”
The North Clinton Avenue fire is the second fire at a city Family Dollar store this morning. A fire at the store located at 836 N. Goodman Street was reported at 11:39 a.m.
Jackson said that fire was “small and contained.”
He said authorities have notified all local Family Dollar stores that “there may be a problem.”
Around 12:15 p.m., 911 dispatchers broadcast a “special attention” call throughout the county for police agencies to be on the lookout for an apparent arsonist striking Family Dollar stores.
Jackson said the city’s arson investigation team was at the scene, but he would not speculate on the cause of the fire.
The video above includes an interview with Rochester Fire Department Chief John Caufield.