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Fire At Historic Firehouse In Downtown Philadelphia

By Paul Kurtz, Walt Hunter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A fire erupted at a firehouse in downtown Philadelphia Friday causing extensive damage.

The fire started at about 11:30 a.m. at the firehouse located at 4th and Arch Streets in Old City.

In a twist of irony, firefighters had to turn their water hoses on their own building and attempt to contain the fire. It took firefighters approximately 15 minutes to bring the blaze fully under control, but not before the fire caused severe damage to the firehouse. The flames were so intense that at one point, several of the firehouse's doors melted.

It appears preliminary that the fire started in a medical unit ambulance that was parked inside the firehouse. A second medic unit vehicle was damaged.

The engine of the medic unit exploded, sending flames and smoke through the ceiling and into the overhead doors.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says two medics battled the blaze until an engine company arrived.

"Right now we have heavy damage to the medic unit. It's pretty much destroyed really. We have heavy damage to the firehouse overhead doors. They're inoperable," Ayers said.

The damage was severe enough to lead Ayers to put the fire house out of service. The department is working to find a new temporary home for those who work there.

There were no reports of any injuries.

The firehouse, commonly referred to as the "Ben Franklin Firehouse," is located at the site of the oldest firehouse country. The original firehouse was founded by Ben Franklin.

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