Pair of abandoned railroad buildings damaged in fire

April 26, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

Two abandoned buildings that have long troubled El Centro firefighters sustained major fire damage Wednesday night.

The Southern Pacific Railroad Co.-owned buildings, at 316 and 318 Orange Ave. on the city's east side, sit about 20 feet apart between two railroad tracks.

Firefighters from the El Centro Fire Department station one responded to the fire around 7:40 p.m. An engine crew from station two, which typically would have responded, was already battling a palm tree fire six to eight blocks east of the structure fire, fire Capt. Dave Hudson said.

The structure fire was contained in 10 minutes, although firefighters stayed at the scene for about two hours, Hudson said.

Hudson said he thinks the buildings once served as railroad conductor layover stations but have been empty for years.

The buildings have long been a source of problems.

Firefighters have responded to fires at the location previously, most recently just over a month ago, Hudson said.


The department has wanted Southern Pacific to demolish or clean up the buildings for years, Hudson said.

Southern Pacific tore down the fence that surrounded the property over a year ago in an apparent start to cleaning the property but stopped there, Hudson said.

Without a fence, the buildings have been accessed easily by people. Graffiti marks the exterior walls. Drug paraphernalia has been found inside the structures in the past, Hudson said.

The fire damaged the buildings beyond repair, Hudson said. That damage has made it difficult for firefighters to determine the fire's cause and point or points of origin, Hudson said.

No one was injured in the blaze.

This fire is still under investigation.

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