‘Extraordinarily disappointing:’ Fire crews continue to battle hotspots at RISE Doro Apartments

Firefighters continued dousing hotspots Monday evening at the yet-to-be-completed RISE Doro apartment complex on A. Philip Randolph Boulevard after the structure caught fire around 9 PM Sunday evening.

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Fire crews had to work from above and from the side of the building, due to the risk of collapse.

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At noon, JFRD Fire Chief Keith Powers said infrared drones were being flown over the scene to identify hot spots within the building to inform where crews should concentrate their efforts.

“In some cases we’re having to wait on the fire to burn through so that we can get the ladder pipe in there to put it out,” said Powers.

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The complex was set to open in March, and Mayor Donna Deegan indicated residents were set to begin moving in within a few weeks.

“And perhaps we should be grateful for that, depending on what happened with this fire. At least there was nobody inside,” said Deegan.

It’s unclear how many would-be residents will be impacted by the fire.

The developer, RISE, did not respond to questions regarding what will happen to those who planned to move in, but did thank the efforts of first responders in a statement sent to Action News Jax.

“RISE is thankful for their quick and ongoing response to the situation and our thoughts and prayers are with the fire fighters, first responders, and their families who are committed to the safety of the community. Updates will be shared as more information becomes available,” said RISE COO Courtney Gordon.

Photos: Jacksonville firefighters battle massive fire at Downtown apartments under construction

Mayor Deegan said the city will look at way it can help those who might have been impacted.

“We will be working with whoever was already contracted to move into the building to see if we can help them establish new housing,” said Deegan.

While the cause of the fire is still unknown, Chief Powers said the piping for a sprinkler system had been installed, however, the system did not activate after the building caught fire last night.

Additionally, he noted voids in the building, which were not yet walled off during the construction phase, likely allowed the fire to spread more easily through the structure.

“I would probably say it is going to be a total loss, but the engineers will make that determination,” said Powers.

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Construction on the complex began in 2021.

The 247-unit, $65 million project was supposed to be one of the first major housing developments in what is expected to become the city’s new entertainment district.

Mayor Deegan noted the fire represents a disappointing setback for development downtown.

“It’s heartbreaking to see this happen. I mean, this was something that we were all so very much looking forward to that we felt was going to be such a catalyst to the development down here and the entertainment district. So, it’s a set back and it’s extraordinarily disappointing,” said Deegan.

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It’s not clear whether the developer plans to rebuild the complex, should it need to be demolished.

Mayor Deegan said regardless of what is next for the structure, it’s her goal to ensure the process moves quickly.

“I have seen many, many comments today talking about the Berkman and I completely understand why people looked at the process and they’re concerned, but there have been some measures that have been put in place since that Berkman collapse that hopefully would make this be a much quicker process moving through,” said Deegan.

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Mayor Deegan noted due to structural concerns crews may be on scene for the next few days as they work to ensure the building does not pose a risk to the public.

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