2-alarm blazes under control after hours-long fighting in South Philadelphia – Greeley Tribune

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Jim Steaks, the iconic cheesesteak shop in South Philadelphia, went up in flames Friday morning. Officials are working to ascertain the cause of the massive fire.

Dozens are still without power at 4 and South Streets around Friday night. The owner is vowing to rebuild.

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Firefighters arrived at 4 and South Streets around 9:30 a.m. to smoke coming from the steak shop

The fire with two alarms was brought under control at 1:33 pm by fire brigade personnel after a struggle of more than four hours.

“We are very concerned about the structural stability of this building,” said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel. “There’s almost no way to really assess it.”

The restaurant has its iconic art decor exterior and is one of the most famous cheesesteak spots in Philadelphia. It has been at the corner of South and Fourth Streets for almost 50 years.

Chopper 3 was at the scene Friday morning and CBS 3 reporter Marcella Baitto says she counted more than a dozen fire engines. More than 100 firefighters, doctors and aid workers were also present at the spot.

Smoke could be seen billowing from the rear of the building for a few hours till noon.

Christina Lawler, the gym’s assistant manager, says 10 employees were preparing for a day of clients when they felt the air inside was heating up.

“Around 9 a.m. I would say we looked up and we saw all this smoke coming from the walk-in so we turned off the power and evacuated the building,” Lawler said.

She got emotional seeing the smoke coming out of the windows.

Lawler said, “My boss is saying it’s probably going to take a while, but every time I hear a window breaking, my heart breaks because that’s how my life is.” “I take this for granted, all my coworkers are there, we’re like a family there and now it feels like our second home is on fire.”

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Lawler says he believes the fire may have been caused by a problem with the AC unit and he doesn’t think anyone was hurt.

The fire department says it is too early to determine the cause of the fire, but problems with the HVAC and duct systems could lead to problems.

“We believe the fire is confined to the building on the fourth and south. This is essentially what we believe is progressing through the heating ventilation and air conditioning systems,” Thiel said.

A nearby resident says it is a huge loss to the community.

“Hopefully, they rebuild and things will come back to life,” said resident Steve Weisman.

As of Friday evening, the Philadelphia Gas Works was working to shut off gas in front of the gym, while many residents and businesses on South Street and 4th Street suffered power outages for most of the day and night.

“Just waiting for power. We have lost power. And a lot of people on this street lost power today,” said Fernando Cristobal, a South Street resident and co-owner of Mexi-Talian Grill.

Cristobal lives above his restaurant, which is across the street from the gym.

“We want the fridge to be on and stuff like that so that I don’t get any bad stuff otherwise I’ll have to throw it away and lose a day. I lost the day before,” he said.

Friday’s fire represents the latest blow to residents and businesses here after the June shootings that claimed three lives. Business has slowed since then, and now this.

“It’s bad for everyone. Everyone around us, we talk about it and we’ve been like crazy this summer. It’s been bad,” Cristóbal said.

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CBS3’s Howard Monroe and Marcella Baitto contributed to this report.

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