Detour on Union Street for several days after fire at old downtown funeral home

Jacksonville mayor says city code enforcement found safety, structural concerns at scene of blaze

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Part of Union Street will be closed for several days after a three-alarm fire that started Saturday at an abandoned commercial building in downtown Jacksonville, authorities said.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department crews worked through Saturday night and into Sunday morning after the blaze at an old funeral home at Union and Main streets.

Flames could be seen pouring from the building on Saturday. It took more than an hour to get it under control. Crews stayed on scene to make prevent any flare-ups. Jacksonville police also taped off Union Street between Laura and Main streets. After the fire, debris could be seen scattered in the road and a nearby gas station parking lot.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Sunday that due to the fire, Union Street at Main Street will remain closed for several days, creating traffic delays for those coming into downtown on eastbound Union Street. The current detour diverts eastbound Union Street traffic to southbound Laura Street. Drivers will then be able to take eastbound Beaver Street or continue southbound on Laura Street.

“Though JSO will be at intersections to assist with traffic, we would ask that motorists take alternate routes if at all possible to ease congestion in the area,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted Sunday that city code enforcement found safety and structural concerns at the scene of the fire.

Crews said the building has been the site of several fires over the years.

According to the Jacksonville Historical Society, the building is the old Moulton and Kyle Funeral Home, designed by famed architect Henry Klutho and built in 1914. According to Florida State College at Jacksonville, it was the River City’s longest-operating business until it closed in the 1990s.

Photos from Abandoned Florida show what the inside of the funeral home once looked like.

In videos shared on social media by JFRD, flames can be seen shooting through the roof on Saturday. Black smoke was also billowing out and filling the air in downtown.

Steve Riska, division chief of Fire Operations for JFRD, said the first calls came in to 911 from passersby about 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Riska said the first firefighters on the scene tried to enter the old funeral home, but they were pushed back by the flames and heat. The roof caved in, and so did the second floor.

“Once they had the floor collapse, there was a danger of wall collapse, with the building actually coming down,” Riska said. “On the back corner of the building, by the 7-Eleven, there’s actually a propane tank, so we had our hazmat folks in there cooling that tank, protecting that exposure, keeping from us having another problem.”

Riska said eventually more than 45 apparatus and more than 110 firefighters were on scene to battle the fire, which posed a threat to not only the crews but the nearby buildings.

“The firefighters did an amazing job protecting the exposure that was that close on both sides,” Riska said.

There was no immediate word on how the fire started. The state fire marshal is investigating.

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Cam shared photos of the fire captured by a drone in Downtown Jacksonville.

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