RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Three cars, burned up today in a downtown Richmond parking garage, and it was a traffic nightmare for drivers in the area. Investigators are still looking into how the fire started just after 1:00 p.m. Thursday at 12th and Marshall near VCU's Critical Care Center. Several streets are now re-opened after police re-routed traffic for more than an hour.
This afternoon, riding on four-wheels only slowed you down. A fire in a parking garage forced driver Pete Megariotis and his daughter to circle the hospital for an hour.
"If you can believe it or not, I told her to walk. She's going to go faster," he said. (What was it like, did the streets look like this?) Oh no. It was packed. Nobody can go through anywhere."
Police shut down streets surrounding the Critical Care Center which neighbors the parking garage. Inside, on Level 3, a car caught fire. Firefighters say flames jumped onto two other cars.
"We are trying to trace down who the owner of the car was just to question, did they experience any mechanical issues or anything of that nature," said Lt. Shawn Jones with the Richmond Fire Department.
Scenarios like this are a part of firefighter training. The resourceful responders connected a hydrant to a truck, then extended a ladder which stretched hoses into the hot spot. The whole thing out in 30 minutes, but smoke crept its way next door.
"Smoke was in several of the stairwells of the building here. And several of the alarms went off, prompting some people to evacuate the building," Jones said.
Only visitors were asked to exit. VCU gave them water, as they waited under shade. Today's temperatures forced firefighters to rotate faster than normal.
"We want to come to MCV on an emergency, we just don't want to end up in MCV for our own emergency," Jones said.
There are no reports of injuries. At the height of the situation, a total of seven fire trucks were on-scene. There are seven levels in that parking garage which can accommodate 750 vehicles. The three cars will remain on scene ---- as firefighters complete their investigation.