Fire crews battle South Street structure fire

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 22, 2023

 Crews extinguished a major building fire in Rochester Feb. 15.

Crews extinguished a major building fire in Rochester Feb. 15.

Photo provided by the Rochester Fire Department


ROCHESTER — The Rochester Fire Department was dispatched to a house reportedly on fire at 203 South St., with multiple callers confirming the activity and that everyone had evacuated the home, at around 5:05 p.m. Feb. 15.

Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik said the city’s fire units responded in less than 90 seconds, and, seeing smoke from the fire station, immediately requested mutual aid to assist.

Upon arrival, the first fire crews from Rochester found heavy fire, with roughly 50% of the structure involved. They established a water supply and put multiple hand water lines in service, but due to the weather and significant wind, the fire quickly spread to the majority of the structure.

Knowing that the homeowners reported that all residents were outside of the building, the incident commander decided that the fire would be fought from the outside of the structure.

As Rochester Hills fire units arrived at the scene, they assisted with multiple hose lines and an aerial master stream. Firefighters from Oakland Township and Troy also responded to the scene.

“Thanks to the significant efforts of our members and all our mutual aid companies, the fire was declared under control at 5:57 p.m.,” Cieslik said in a press release.

All mutual aid firefighters were released by 8 p.m., but Rochester firefighters remained at the scene for several more hours to assure the fire was extinguished.

Due to the partial collapse of the building, Cieslik said, fire crews were unable to enter the structure to completely extinguish the fire. He said excavation crews were brought in to take the house down in “a controlled fashion,” so the remaining hot spots and small fires could be extinguished, preventing a larger fire later in the evening.

After several hours of overhaul operations, with the assistance of excavation crews, the fire was declared out, and the last units cleared the scene just after 11 p.m.

“This was a challenging fire due to the significant winds blowing smoke and fire throughout the home and embers into nearby grass and shrubs, which had to be put out to keep other buildings from catching fire. Additionally, the power line connecting the home came down early in the fire, creating a hazard for crews working on the scene. Fire crews from Rochester and all our mutual aid partners did an excellent job of overcoming these challenges to extinguish the fire. No civilians or firefighters were injured as a result of this fire,” Cieslik said.

Cieslik thanked the Rochester police, the Rochester Hills Fire Department, the Oakland Township Fire Department, the Troy Fire Department, the Rochester Department of Public Works and Doran Excavation for their assistance in extinguishing the fire.