Ice encases burned factory, neighborhood

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image wpvi"><span>WPVI</span></div><span class="caption-text">Chris Macan of Havertown sent this photo of the Kensington warehouse fire on January 20, 2008 to Action News.</span></div>
January 21, 2008 4:41:07 PM PST
Fire investigators are trying to get to the bottom of the 6-alarm fire that evacuated a neighborhood and left some people without jobs. The massive flames broke out at the Fixture One plant Sunday afternoon. It's located on the 1300 block of North Front Street in Kensington.

The building that was consumed by the blaze is now, ironically, buried under a thick crust of ice. Several nearby homes are also under a deep freeze including the Grone Family home right across the street. John Grone, who's now looking for a place for his family to stay, says his home is so close to the furniture warehouse that he knew where the heart of the fire was before the firefighters.

Approximately 20 homes suffered serious water/ice damage. Meantime, fire officials say the enormous amount of wood, coupled with solvents and flammable liquids inside the workshops, made matters that much more difficult. A water main break caused by the old main's exposure to the arctic temperatures also hampered the fire crew's progress, as did the strong winds.

"When I was looking at the wind over from Front Street perspective it looked like the ambers were just going horizontal," said Lloyd Ayers, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner.

No other homes or structures caught fire though, and nobody was injured despite the fact that it took more than two hours to get it under control. In addition, an "employee shift" was on the job at the furniture factory just hours earlier. But those employees will now have to find a new place to work.

Meantime, the Market-Frankford El line was also knocked out of service because of the line's close proximity to the fire, and power was knocked out to the neighborhood as well. Officials are hoping to restore the El, power and water by sometime Monday night.