Fire breaks out in downtown high-rise

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SAN DIEGO – A small but smoke-intensive fire Tuesday forced the full evacuation of a high-rise that houses the main downtown San Diego fire station.

The blaze erupted shortly after 10 a.m. in a seventh-floor utility room in the 25-story structure in the 1000 block of Second Avenue, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

The non-injury blaze  was quickly put out, but sent smoke through the high-rise office building.  Investigators said a turbine fan motor caused the fire.

"I went to the gym this morning and now I regret it because I had a heck of a workout coming down those stairs."   Attorney John Maddsen said.  Maddsen was among the many people evacuated. His office is located on the 23rd floor.

"We’re so used to having a drill where it’s no big deal. You don’t feel a rush to want to get out of the building and we heard over the intercom that this is not a drill so suddenly our perception of what was going on changed." Maddsen said.

Crews cleared everyone out of the building while extinguishing the flames, which took only a few minutes, SDFRD spokesman Lee Swanson said.

high-rise-fireThough the blaze turned out to be minor, it was designated a third-alarm fire, which is standard procedure involving such a large structure, he said.

No injuries were reported. The fire was contained to the 7th floor utility room.

Maddsen is relieved there was such a major fire response. He said it's better to safe than sorry. "I think I counted about ten different trucks. The heavy duty responders and the big ladder truck. I was a little surprised to see how much response. I thought about it , this is a highrise, how many times do we have a fire in a downtown highrise? First responders need to air on the side of caution and that's what they did." Maddsen added.

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