Jacksonville officials quickly demolish downtown apartment building torched in blaze
What's left of the RISE Doro apartment building, which was torched by fire, is being demolished in downtown Jacksonville. Photo via Drew Dixon

DOROAPTS
While the cause of a massive fire that destroyed an incomplete apartment complex in downtown Jacksonville remains elusive, the city is proceeding with demolition.

A large incomplete apartment complex that was torched by fire this week as it was under construction in Jacksonville’s Sports Complex area downtown is in the process of being demolished before the remaining walls fall and damage surrounding businesses.

The RISE Doro apartments on A. Philip Randolph Boulevard ignited as construction workers were completing projects for the day. The inferno consumed most of the wood-frame interior and more than 100 firefighters responding to the scene could do little as the incomplete building had not engaged sprinkler systems since it was still under construction.

While the fire smoldered for most of the week, the demolition contractor Elev8 began demolition Friday. Fire damage was so extreme to the apartment complex, the city condemned the structure. That led to the permits for demolition, which is expected to continue well into next week.

Phil Perry, chief communications officer for Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan, said since so many businesses surrounding the seven-story apartment structure are near the building, the city had to act quickly to tear it down.

“The RISE Doro building has been so severely damaged that there is a potential for collapse at any moment,” Perry said in the prepared news release issued Friday.

“For the safety of first responders, investigators and the public, no person is allowed to enter the wood frame portions of the building. Additionally, the potential collapse zone of the seven-story building extends across the adjacent streets, sidewalks and surrounding businesses. The demolition is proceeding as quickly as possible to maintain public safety, while limiting the financial impact and risk of collapse onto nearby businesses, which must remain closed during the demolition process.”

While the toll on firefighters and other first responders and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was extreme in terms of man-hours and physical work, there were no injuries attributed to the inferno.

Still, the exact cause of the fire remains unclear. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Public Information Officer Captain Eric Prosswimmer said Tuesday the origin of the fire was on the south side of the incomplete apartment building between the sixth and seventh floors.

At the time, Prosswimmer said firefighters were being careful not to disturb the scene and were holding off on any agreement for demolition. He said they did not want to disturb any potential evidence within the charred interior for fear that it could hinder the investigation into the cause.

Perry said multiple agencies are now investigating the cause of the inferno and the city felt at this stage of the episode, there “was not a reason to endanger public safety by holding up the demolition process.”

The damage was so extreme to the building there has been extensive closure to streets and businesses since it ignited Sunday. Many of those closures will continue at least until the demolition is complete, if not longer. There has even been an order to restrict air traffic and flight patterns over the fire area and officials are emphasizing anyone with aerial drones to refrain from flying those devices in the vicinity of the apartment complex.

Those flight restrictions are expected to remain in force until Feb. 9.

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Editor’s note: Drew Dixon’s spouse is an employee of Mayor Deegan’s administrative staff.

Drew Dixon

Drew Dixon is a journalist of 40 years who has reported in print and broadcast throughout Florida, starting in Ohio in the 1980s. He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at three colleges, Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville. You can reach him at [email protected].


5 comments

  • Defund Dangerous florida

    February 2, 2024 at 1:55 pm

    Don’t stop with one building; raze Naughty Nassau

    • the Truth

      February 4, 2024 at 3:09 pm

      come out to Nassau Defund , you heard the song, try that in a small town,,, come on out here boy

  • the Truth

    February 3, 2024 at 8:45 pm

    smells like arson to me

  • Margaret

    February 4, 2024 at 12:44 pm

    The haste in taking this down so quickly smells like a cover up of arson. This, in addition to the revelation that the lumber was untreated for fire-retardants. This should be a code violation. It looks as if the developers were in it for the insurance payout in case of disaster.

  • Yeah right

    February 9, 2024 at 6:29 pm

    The city quickly banned the use of drones which would have been risk-free documentation and inspection. No law enforcement follow up. No recompense for surrounding businesses. Just another day in Jacksonville.

Comments are closed.


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