Firefighters from all over Guam joined forces to fight a blaze that began early Wednesday morning.
Guam Fire Department units responded to a 911 call at 4:39 Thursday morning and units arrived on the scene at 4:45 am.
The fire was traced to the Dewitt warehouse.
Guam Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Joey San Nicolas told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo that they were told the warehouse primarily held documents.
“It’s been a while since we had a large fire…a fire this size, as well as complexity. It was basically a warehouse full of burning material, or material that light up pretty quick…a Class A material…so there was definitely a lot of complexity with this fire, and it challenged us for sure,” San Nicolas said.
At 11:22 am Wednesday, GFD put out a call to the community in the Harmon Industrial Park area to reduce water usage for the remainder of the day so that more would be available for first responders.
Students at Chief Brodie Memorial School and John F. Kennedy High School were released early because of the effect the fire was having on air quality.
Classes resumed as scheduled today.
During the incident, one firefighter suffered from heat exhaustion but will be able to return to duty during his next shift.
By noon, GFD said the fire was contained but they were still trying to extinguish it.
“We were comparing it often yesterday…we were comparing it to back in the day when we’d fight the Ordot Dump fire. It got to a point where the fire was deep-seated…and everything else was on top of it. And the more we dumped water on it…all we did was basically create a blanket of water, of wet material over dry material. So that was the constant battle that we had. But we were definitely successful in protecting the exposures, and just working our way little by little, to get to the whole building,” San Nicolas said.
Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting personnel from the airport arrived on the scene with special equipment designed for penetrating airplane fuselages.
They used the equipment to pierce the roof of the warehouse and then pumped water inside.
San Nicolas said the structure was compromised so firefighters couldn’t go inside the building itself.
“So with this mechanical means, we were able to pierce the roof and drop over a hundred thousand gallons of water throughout the operation in the daytime. And then through the night, they kept going, we kept using them, to help us get to the last corner of the fire,” San Nicolas said.
Along with GFD, federal and military firefighters contributed as well.
San Nicolas said that it was one of the biggest firefighting efforts on Guam in recent memory.
“A minimum of 35 firefighters were on the ground at any given time. That being said, we did rotate personnel about two or three times yesterday and throughout the shift. It was a very large effort. A large effort that we haven’t had in a very long time. I would say total personnel was probably 90 to 100 personnel that was on the ground,” San Nicolas said.
He added that at this point, it’s still too early to determine what caused the fire.