Laub Block fire on firefighters' minds. See attached article

A fire Tuesday night in the basement of the Pediatric Dentistry building in uptown Denison damaged that business, temporarily closed the adjacent Steren Electronics business and caused occupants of some second-story apartments to be temporarily displaced.

Firefighters and equipment from the Denison, Dow City-Arion, Manilla and Vail departments were involved containing the fire.

No one was injured.

Residents of the affected apartments were not permanently displaced but had to be evacuated. Denison Fire Chief Cory Snowgren said Ngane Luong took care of the residents of her apartments on Tuesday night. The residents were allowed back into their apartments on Wednesday.

Steren Electronics was open for business on Wednesday afternoon.

The fire remains under investigation, said Snowgren.

Pediatric Dentistry is located at 28 North Main.

The fire call was made at 9:47 p.m. on Tuesday, and firefighters went first to the basement of North Main Coin Laundry, 34 North Main, where smoke had been reported. No fire was present, and the search for the source of the smoke was extended.

Firefighter crews investigated at the back and fronts of the buildings in that block of North Main and located the fire in the basement at the dentistry building.

Snowgren said crews searching for the fire could see smoke coming from the second floor apartments and hallways but couldn’t determine immediately where the source was. There were no initial telltale signs, he said.

Crews used thermal imaging equipment to look at hot spots on the floor, walls and ceilings.

Once the fire was located in the basement of Pediatric Dentistry, the Denison Volunteer Fire Department used its Bresnan cellar nozzles for the first time. Snowgren said the nozzles had been purchased in 2010 or 2011.

One nozzle fits a 1-1/2 inch hose and the other fits a 2 -1/2 inch hose. The nozzle is lowered through cuts made in the floor. They are designed as rotating distributors to spray water outward, to suppress the fire below, and upward, to protect the floor from which firefighters are operating.

Snowgren explained that basement fires in residential and commercial buildings pose unique risks.

“Generally there is one way in and out way out, and they are hard to get to,” he said. “The way in is where all the heat and smoke are coming. That makes it pretty challenging.”

The cellar nozzles knocked down the fire so firefighters were able to enter the basement with less risk and begin the final extinguishment and overhaul.

Among the challenges posed by fires in a commercial area where stores are adjacent to each other is determining what type of construction firefighters are dealing with.

Going south from the North Main Coin Laundry are a vacant store front, the dentistry building and then Radio Shack. Snowgren said that even though they are different storefronts, it may still be one original building but just divided up.

It’s also the reason that the smoke from a basement two storefronts to the south could travel to the basement of the North Main Coin Laundry building.

“There can be common raceways, conduits, gas lines or water lines,” said Snowgren, “any little opening. What really pushes the smoke is the pressure from the fire.”

Combustion creates an area of high pressure, and pressure always seeks a state of equilibrium.

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