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Fire breaks out in roof of Virginia utilities building

The Virginia Fire Department had to push the limits of its ladder truck this morning to fight a fire atop the city's Public Utilities building. The roof of the building is around 100 feet above ground level, and Ladder 1 can reach approximately 1...

The Virginia Fire Department had to push the limits of its ladder truck this morning to fight a fire atop the city's Public Utilities building.

The roof of the building is around 100 feet above ground level, and Ladder 1 can reach approximately 112 feet off the ground, according to Jason Dickinson, acting fire captain. The fire was burning in a rubber membrane under several inches of rock, Dickinson said. "The actual majority of the fire was inside the roof itself."

Firefighters were dispatched about 7:30 a.m. and the Virginia and Mountain Iron fire departments had the fire controlled by 9:30, but it is still believed to have caused approximately $150,000 in damage, according to a press release from the Virginia Fire Department.

Although it's not official yet, Fire Marshal Roger Scott and Fire Chief Darrel Knapper investigated the scene and believe the fire was caused by insufficient clearance between the roof and a high-temperature vent.

"They figure there wasn't enough insulation between those vents and the actual roofing material," said Dickinson. "It's just like a chimney that comes up through the roof."

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The vent is attached to a boiler that can produce steam hotter than 800 degrees. For the safety of the firefighters, the boiler was shut down during the fire.

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