Fire Breaks Out at Jim’s Steaks in South Philadelphia – NBC10 Philadelphia

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Firefighters were battling a blaze at Jim’s Steaks in South Philadelphia that broke out Friday morning and continued to burn into the afternoon, weaving through the eatery’s HVAC system.

More than 100 firefighters responded to the blaze, but they were having a hard time putting it out because it appeared the flames were difficult to access as they snaked their way through the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, Philadelphia Fire Department Commissioner Adam Thiel said at a press conference shortly before 2 pm

“We’re very concerned about the structural stability of this building. There really is almost no way to assess that,” Thiel said. “So again, we’re taking a defensive posture in an abundance of caution, and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to preserve as much of the property as possible – at least the building itself.”

Firefighters responded to the eatery on the corner of 4th and South streets after someone reported that some wires had caught fire around 9:15, Thiel said. Smoke could be seen billowing from every floor of the four-story building as firefighters knocked down windows.

The floors on top of the cheesesteak shop, a city staple dating back to the 1930s, were empty and are used for storage, Thiel noted.

A manager at the eatery told NBC10 the air condition had stopped working in the morning and then started smoking. That’s when she said she got everyone out of the building. Everyone was OK, the manager said.

NBC10’s Miguel Martinez-Valle was at the scene and reported shortly after 11 am that firefighters were evacuated from the building and people in the vicinity were told to back up.

Firefighters seemed to be focusing their efforts on an HVAC unit, dousing it with water from above and below. However, Thiel said, crews were not “drowning” the building with water because they believed the fire was in the ducts.

The blaze was contained to the restaurant, but crews were proceeding with caution because of the risk that the building was structurally unstable.

“This is a very challenging incident and right now we’re trying to balance the risk and benefit of our firefighters’ lives and protecting the property here at this iconic building and everywhere that’s attached to it,” Thiel said, referencing an incident in which a firefighter died last month after a building collapsed following another blaze.

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