Downtown Jacksonville Fire: Unraveling the RISE Doro Blaze

In a rare and devastating calamity at a high-rise building in downtown Jacksonville, a fierce fire engulfed the luxury apartment complex of RISE Doro on Sunday night, continuing into Monday. This catastrophic incident shook the...

In a rare and devastating calamity at a high-rise building in downtown Jacksonville, a fierce fire engulfed the luxury apartment complex of RISE Doro on Sunday night, continuing into Monday. This catastrophic incident shook the city's sports and entertainment district, leaving behind a trail of destruction. While the building stands tall amidst the chaos, its future hangs in the balance.

The Origins of the Blaze

At this stage, it remains too early to ascertain the exact cause of the fire. Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers revealed that the inferno originated on the sixth floor, rapidly spreading to the seventh. Promptly alerted at approximately 9:30 pm on Sunday, firefighters swiftly mobilized their forces in response to the distress call.

Ensuring the Safety of Residents

Thankfully, no injuries have been reported thus far, and authorities do not believe that anyone was present within the premises at the time of the blaze. Reflecting on the situation, Mayor Donna Deegan expressed her relief, stating, "It looks like at this point nobody was hurt."

Navigating the Impact on Traffic

The aftermath of the fire has had a profound effect on local traffic. Overnight and into Monday, numerous downtown roads experienced closures or heavy congestion due to the presence of fire trucks and emergency personnel. East Adams and A. Philip Randolph, Spearing and E. Monroe streets, as well as East Duval and N. George streets, have been directly affected. The authorities anticipate that these road closures will remain in effect for the foreseeable future as engineers assess the structural integrity of the building.

The Looming Threat of Collapse

Undoubtedly, the potential collapse of the building looms large as a significant concern. Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers acknowledged this anxiety, acknowledging the compromised state of certain walls associated with the structure. As the inferno consumed the roof, it eroded the building's structural stability, posing the risk of wall collapse.

The Safety of Nearby Structures

Fortunately, nearby structures such as Maxwell House, Intuition Ale Works, and Veterans Memorial Arena appear to be out of harm's way. Captain Eric Prosswimmer, a spokesperson for the fire department, reassured the public, stating, "They're safe in this general sense." He further reiterated that these buildings, constructed with resilient materials such as brick and concrete, are not highly flammable. Precautionary measures were also taken, with personnel ready to act promptly if any danger were to arise.

Awaiting the Engineers' Verdict

The ultimate decision on the fate of the RISE Doro apartments rests in the hands of the engineers. Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers affirmed this, stating, "Once we get the fire totally put out, the engineers can make that determination." It remains to be seen whether the apartments can be salvaged or if they will have to be torn down entirely.

The Response in Numbers

The fire ignited an extraordinary response, with 110 firefighters on the scene, nearly one-fifth of the department's typical staffing levels. The fire department deployed 12 fire engines, seven ladder trucks, six rescue units, and a multitude of other apparatuses to combat the inferno. This unified effort exemplified the dedication and bravery of the emergency responders.

Smoke and Air Quality Concerns

As plumes of smoke billowed from the burning building, concerns arose regarding air quality for those in the vicinity. Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers advised individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma to remain indoors. The situation was slightly mitigated by the offshore wind, dispersing the smoke. Additionally, efforts were made to protect the nearby river from any potential runoff.

Assessing the Magnitude of the Disaster

Undoubtedly, this fire ranks among the most severe incidents witnessed in Jacksonville over the past decade. Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers expressed the gravity of the situation, emphasizing its unprecedented nature and the challenges it presents.

The Impact on Downtown Development

The devastating fire at RISE Doro represents a significant setback for downtown development in Jacksonville. Mayor Donna Deegan expressed her disappointment, lamenting the loss. She emphasized the importance of not allowing this incident to impede progress and reaffirmed the developer's commitment to rebuild and move forward with the project.

Behind the Development: RISE Real Estate Company

The developer behind RISE Doro is RISE: A Real Estate Company of Jacksonville. In October 2020, the Downtown Incentive Authority approved property tax rebates of up to $5.75 million for the development. These rebates would only be paid by the city once the project reaches completion and opens its doors to residents. The anticipated total investment for the development stood at around $66 million, as outlined in the incentives term sheet.

As the flames subside, the focus now shifts to the recovery and rebuilding process. Jacksonville remains resilient in the face of this devastating incident, demonstrating the unwavering spirit of its community. The determination to restore the RISE Doro apartments and revitalize downtown development remains strong, as the city looks forward to a brighter and more prosperous future.

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