A St Johns County Fire Rescue spokesman told Historic City News this morning that last night’s response to a report of smoke coming from inside a structure in the 100 block of St George Street was an example of being “safe not sorry” — even though no fire was located.
Amidst the clamor of busy holiday shoppers, at 7:54 p.m. emergency operators dispatched St Augustine firefighters to the scene of reported “light smoke and strong smoke odor” even though flames were not visible to the occupant.
“This is the time of year when we get these types of calls,” Historic City News was told. “It’s the first time many furnaces and heaters have been started up this season, typically there is dust burn-off from the heating elements of gas and electric heaters that causes some smoking and the unmistakable odor of something burning.”
Ladder 47, Rescue 5 and Engine 46 had traffic interrupted along Cathedral Place at the south end of St George Street for about 45 minutes while firefighters inspected the premises and cleared the call.
One reader at the location reported concerns of a possible gas leak, which was determined to be false. Additional units, including Engine 42 and Engine 12 also responded — all those units, and more, would have easily been required had the source of the smoke been actual flames.
Buildings along St George Street, between Cathedral Place and north to Orange Street, are some of the oldest in the city; many are constructed of 100-year-old wood that could ignite with minimal effort. St Augustine Fire Chief Mike Arnold has reported that keeping access clear to those buildings is a high priority for his department.
It took less than an hour to inspect the building and determine the source of the smoke and smoky smells. No one was injured during the incident or response.
Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News facebook photograph by Michael Carr