A fire in a group of commercial buildings on the west side of the 2400 block of Central Avenue NE broke out around 5:30 pm Sunday, March 22. It was initially reported as a second-floor fire at 2412 Central Ave. NE, which houses El Taco Riendo restaurant.
The fire appears to have moved to the first and second floors of the adjoining building at 2408, which houses the National Association of Letter Carriers branch office.
By 5:45, the 2408 building was fully engulfed, and was being fought by two aerial nozzle trucks. Central Avenue was closed between Lowry and 23rd Avenues, and onlookers crowded the sidewalk on east side of the street. Black smoke rose more than a hundred feet and at times street visibility was less than a block. Strong winds carried the smoke away but may have helped prolong the fire at rooftop level, where flames could be clearly seen.
The roof of the two-story building to the south (2404-06) caught fire. Anelace Coffee, one of the first-floor businesses, had recently closed due to concerns about the coronavirus. The other business, Metro PCS, was not occupied at the time of the fire.
Fire Department officials said that the fire at one point seemed to be contained, but flared up again; the walls between the brick-faced buildings turned out to be wood, not brick. Each of the buildings had second-floor apartments, and the Red Cross is assisting the displaced occupants find temporary shelter.
Below: First three photos by Mark Peterson, and last photo by Margo Ashmore