Dauphin Street fire so intense a local felt the heat on his balcony

Investigators are still looking in to what caused the blaze.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:19 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Billowing flames lit up the night sky in Downtown Mobile Thursday night.

Investigators are still looking in to what caused the fire.

“My whole house was turning yellow and orange through the windows- bright as it could be and I take a look out window and there’s a 70-foot fire about half a block from my windows,” said Chase Clark.

Clark was sitting in his apartment on Dauphin Street when he suddenly saw bright lights.

“I could feel the heat sitting on the balcony, the debris was going into the air, there’s soot all over my truck this morning,” said Clark.

He filmed the blaze from his balcony, just three parking spots away from the fire.

“Really had me worried, had to come down and see the crowd, it was immense. It was an immense flame,” said Clark.

Then came the sirens. Mobile Fire Rescue leaped to action around 9:30 p.m.

“Tons of people called in- people walking around the street saw this fire, flames leaping behind the sky, called 9-1-1 the dispatchers got engines on the way right away,” said Mobile Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Jeff Haller.

A vacant building next to Hoffman Furniture, part of Hoffman Estates, bore the brunt of most of the damage.

An hour later, the fire was out.

“There was damage to the adjacent structures. This building to the East sustained minor damage to the second floor. Crews did make access to that buildings and the building on the other side. The damage was heavier on the building to the East side,” said Haller.

Cecily Utsey, a business owner on Dauphin Street, watched the fire unfold from her TV screen.

“It was really scary because it was a huge fire and I know they can spread really quickly,” she stated.

The fire was just doors down from her shop.

“Obviously that building is attached to another building and everything is so close in the historic district and obviously the buildings have such old materials,” said Utsey.

Haller credits MFRD’s quick response for saving the Port City’s historic avenue.

“Dauphin Street really is the core and the heart of Downtown Mobile. The way the buildings look- it’s crucial to the character of Downtown and so it’s nice they were able to make the stop they did and keep it from spreading across the block,” he said.

Both Clark and Utsey agree.

“I was just glad to see how quickly the fire department and everyone reacted,” said Utsey.

“They did a great job keeping it contained and keeping it in one spot,” added Clark.

Investigators are still looking in to what caused the fire.

In the meantime, the City of Mobile is asking folks to avoid that area on Dauphin Street. The City is working with the property owner to secure the building and that work is expected soon. Until then, the sidewalks and parking spaces on Dauphin Street will be closed and barricaded.

Still, there might be some hope for the damaged building. The owner is working with the City on a long-term plan to save the structure and those plans are expected to be submitted by September 20.