Huge fire destroys downtown landmarkUPDATED 3:22 AM HST Mar 31, 2014Video Transcript
Breaking news this morning. A massive fire destroys part of the Old Younkers building downtown. We'll have full coverage of the devastating fire. And we want to get to KCCI's Ryan Smith right away. He's at 701 Walnut Street in downtown Des Moines where the fire started. What can you tell us this morning? Marcus, this is a marathon fight for these crews this morning. They've been at it more than seven hours now... This is the old yonkers building and all eight floors were engulfed by flames overnight. Crews are posted at every corner within a three block radius of the fire. Cell phone video captures a number of floors and walls within this historic downtown building collapsing to the ground. The des moines fire department received a flood of reports describing flames shooting out of the old Yonkers Building. From an office building across the street... You see what firefighers were up against. Fire consumed every floor at 701 Walnut street. The blaze lit up the downtown skyline and attracted dozens of onlookers. 54.55 "YOU COULD HEAR IT SEVERAL DIFFERENT TIMES. AS EACH PHASE OF THE BUILDING FELL. JUST A LOT OF LOUD, BANDING AND CLANGING AND A HUGE PLUM OF DUST. STUFF YOU USUALLY SEE ON TV. YOU DON'T SEE IT IN PERSON." Crews reported the 3-alarm fire within minutes of being on scene. Those tasked with entering the crumbling structure only made it halfway through their search. Conditions forced firefighters to turn back at the the fourth floor. 41.07 "WE DID AN INITIAL MOVEMENT INTO THE BUILDING BUT WE WERE TURNED AWAY RAPIDLY BY HEAT, FLAME AND THE COLLAPSE OF INTERIOR, EXTERIOR." Heat radiating from the structure caused significant damage to the EMC Insurance Building and Hub Tower. 41.58 "THE ALUMINUM IS MELTING, THE GLASS IS STARTING TO PEEL, IT'S CRACKED AND THEY HAVE SMOKE ON MULTIPLE FLOORS." No injuries have been reported but fire fighters weren't able to search the entire building. The building is under construction, so fire officials do not believe anyone was inside. 55.17 "INTENSE. THAT'S ABOUT THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN DESCRIBE IT IS INTENSE. AND A FURRY OF FIREFIGHTERS AND COPS DOING A WONDERFUL JOB KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE AND FIGHTING WHAT SEEMS TO BE A LOSING BATTLE." Fire fighters continue to dump thousands of gallons of water onto these three buildings: yonkers, EMC and hub tower. I'm told it will be a few more hours before investigators will go inside and assess the damage and try to determine its cause. Road closures remain this morning from Grand avenue to Mulberry and sixth to ninth streets.