Blaze at Gross Lighting Center in Wilmington

By Tom Lehman, Mellany Armstrong 12:54pm, August 22, 2013 - Updated 7:59pm, August 22, 2013
A photo of the scene where a two-alarm blaze broke out in Wilmington Thursday afternoon/Courtesy of Andrew Sgroi, TrafficWatch.
A two-alarm blaze damaged a building in downtown Wilmington Thursday afternoon, prompting multiple road closures and drawing more than 60 firefighters and EMS to the scene.

Crews were called to Gross Lighting Center at 201 W. 4th Street. around 11:40 a.m. The building had been condemned in 2012.

Firefighters initially began attacking the blaze from inside the building.

"Firefighters were hampered by an excessive amount of clutter within the building and the deteriorating fire conditions," said Richard Danner, a spokesman for the Wilmington Fire Department.

Danner said one firefighter released a "Mayday" call, but was able to escape the building on his own. A known occupant of the building also successfully fled the building.

A second alarm was called and the building was evacuated. Off-duty and reserve firemen responded to the scene along with crews from neighboring departments.

C.R. McLeod, Communications Director at the Rodel Foundation, watched as firefighters fought the blaze, which was reported to be under control around 2:06 p.m.

"It was cause for alarm there for a few moments," McLeod said. "There's been a significant number of emergency vehicles and fire personnel on the scene all afternoon."

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In 2012, Gross Lighting Center was condemned by the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections. The violations included improperly maintained electrical facilities, loose or damaged asbestos, weakened floor and unsafe structures and equipment.

City officials say children in the Salvation Army child care center were evacuated to Delaware Technical Community College and Kuumba Academy.

Fire officials say the city's Fire Marshal is investigating the incident.

Road closures around the scene are expected to continue into Thursday night.

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