FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne fire officials warn the old St. Joseph Hospital at the corner of Broadway and Main Street in downtown Fort Wayne is in danger of collapsing.
Firefighters responded to a fire in a wall there sparked by the contractors working to demolish the building Wednesday night, Deputy Chief Adam O’Connor told WANE 15.
Fire crews were sent to the building shortly after 6 p.m. and were on scene for about four hours.
WANE 15’s crew at the scene could see a small amount of smoke coming from a window, but there weren’t any visible flames.
O’Connor said they think the demolition contractor was cutting some steel with a torch when some embers dropped into the wall, but they can’t confirm the exact cause of the fire because it’s too dangerous for firefighters to go into the building to fully investigate.
Bricks could be seen falling from the building onto Main Street. As of Thursday morning, Main Street between Broadway and Van Buren is closed. O’Connor is asking people to avoid the area.
Police at the scene told WANE 15 there is concern that the building is not structurally sound and construction crews may have to knock the rest of it down, which could result in some long-term road closures.
O’Connor added that the demolition crew’s equipment also broke around the same time as the fire, leaving a steel beam hanging precariously from the building.
While the smoke has stopped and the fire appears to be out, O’Connor said it’s impossible to tell if any hot spots are left in the wall. The contractor left someone at the building all night on “fire watch” and will call 911 if any smoke is spotted again.
It’s not clear when the building will be finished being torn down or if that timeline will be expedited. O’Connor said the contractor is also still working to fix the broken piece of equipment.
The building is currently undergoing demolition as the new Lutheran Downtown Hospital opened up across the street off of Van Buren Street.
- Lutheran Downtown Hospital honoring St. Joseph Hospital by repurposing stain glass
- Worker suffers severe burns at shuttered St. Joseph Hospital