Flamenco building fire could have been much worse

Created: 12/19/2013 5:37 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque firefighters managed to save several businesses in Wednesday night’s big Downtown fire – and a quick-thinking fire commander may have saved something more valuable – the lives of six firemen.

City Fire Marshal Victor Padilla was actually the first person to see the smoke and call in the alarm – just a thin light gray plume of smoke that looked like steam – but in just a few minutes it looked much worse.

A thick column of dense black smoke towered over Downtown, with flames shooting 50 feet into the air. Padilla took command as the first firefighters arrived and ordered six firemen into the burning building to look for the heart of the fire. Standard operating procedure. But then Padilla saw something that wasn’t standard – a sudden, violent exhalation of smoke and fire that blew right through the roof. Padilla called his men out moments before the roof collapsed, undoubtedly saving their lives.

In the bright sunlight of the following morning, Padilla downplayed the drama.

“Actually, we were just doing our jobs as we were trained to through our training with the fire department,” Padilla said. “Our main priority in any and all emergencies is life safety – life safety of the occupants, the citizens of Albuquerque, as well as our firefighters.”

In the light of day Thursday you could easily see wher firefighters drew their line and fought to protect the other buildings on the block to the west of the burning flamenco dance studio. One of those businesses is the Model Shoeshine Shop, run by the family of Adam Campos since 1931.

“They did an awesome job and thanks to them we’ll be able to shine shoes today,” Campos said. “It could have easily been all done for us and the rest of the people on the block.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Firefighters said it would probably be a few days before they can release any information about that.

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