At 11pm Sunday night, a Prescott police officer on patrol noticed a smoky haze as he drove along North Granite Street. He began driving around the neighborhood trying to find the source of the smoke and found the Big Easy bar in the 100 block of North McCormick Street charged with smoke. The officer called for a fire response and began notifying the residences on either side of the burning structure to evacuate their homes. Two Prescott Fire engines and one truck company as well as a Central Arizona Fire engine responded to the fire.
The truck company’s firefighters forced entry into the building and found heavy smoke conditions to the ground and determined that the floor of the building had been compromised by the fire. Firefighters were able to get a quick knockdown on the fire and then set up ventilation to rid the building of smoke. Another two hours were spent extinguishing all the remaining hot spots in the building to avoid having the fire rekindle.
Investigation of the cause will begin in daylight hours Monday morning. There were no firefighter injuries to report and the adjacent residents were able to return to their homes by 1am. The structure itself suffered considerable damage, having lost most of its floor and ceiling in the blaze.
As an educational note, the police officer who found the fire made two decisions that improved safety and the outcome for the citizens. First, he alerted the neighbors so they had adequate time to gather themselves and any valuables. Second, he recognized that the fire was so well established that a fire extinguisher would have been ineffective. Had the officer attempted to enter the building, he would have been overcome with smoke and the introduction of fresh air would have accelerated the fire’s progress before firefighter could arrive. This could have resulted in considerably more damage to the building as well as the potential loss of life.
A note on the attached photo: The shot was taken moments after two firefighters forced open the front door and began applying water to the fire. One firefighter is standing outside on the porch and his head is no longer visible due to the smoke rolling out the door. The second firefighter is kneeling inside the doorway. While you can still see his helmet, immediately in front of him is a solid wall of smoke. That firefighter reported having zero visibility inside.