Del. Building Fire Not an Explosion: Officials

A building fire that injured one man and shut down lanes on U.S. 13 was accidental, according to officials.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An industrial warehouse in St. Georges, Delaware went up in flames on Friday. Officials say vapors from fuel being siphoned from a tank ignited and set other combustible materials on fire. The burning building shut down all southbound lanes on U.S. 13 from Cox Neck Road to the St. Georges Bridge. NBC10's Lu Ann Cahn reports. (Published Friday, Jul 27, 2012)

    A building fire that injured one man and shut down lanes on U.S. 13 was accidental, according to officials.

    The fire broke out at the FNJ Enterprises building on the 1600 block of South DuPont Highway in Saint Georges shortly before 11 a.m. Responding firefighters dealt with heavy flames and smoke.

    “When we pulled up on the scene it was fully involved,” said Ed Kalinowski of the Delaware City Fire Company. “Fire shooting through the roof and windows, puffing out the doors.”

    The fire shut down all lanes on U.S. 13 from Cox Neck Road to the south entrance of Saint Georges Bridge.

    NBC10 spoke with the owner of FNJ Enterprises as well as the owner of a business next door that was also heavily damaged.

    “It was my business my employees were in,” said Franco Fregapane, the owner of FNJ. “They all got out safely.”

    “I was in my shop working and the explosion happened next door and before I knew it the whole building was gone,” said David Laird, owner of an equipment repair business next door to FNJ.

    After the blaze was controlled, investigators determined the fire originated in the part of the building that housed a salvage garage. Investigators say the fire was not an explosion as previously speculated. The Delaware State Fire Marshal says it was an accident caused by “vapors from fuel being siphoned from a tank igniting and surrounding combustibles catching fire.”

    The blaze caused around $500,000 in damages. Fregapane’s 22-year-old son was injured while trying to extinguish the blaze and suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns to his arms. He was treated by New Castle County Paramedics and taken via ambulance to Christiana Hospital where he was treated for his injuries. A firefighter was also taken to the hospital and treated for heat exhaustion.