Overnight fire engulfs New Orleans’ Old Market Street Wharf

New Orleans firefighters battle a two-alarm blaze that engulfed the Old Market Street Wharf in...
New Orleans firefighters battle a two-alarm blaze that engulfed the Old Market Street Wharf in the overnight hours Saturday into early Sunday morning (Oct. 17).(New Orleans Fire Department)
Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 6:35 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A spectacular two-alarm blaze overnight engulfed the city’s Old Market Street Wharf, the New Orleans Fire Department said Sunday (Oct. 17).

Whipped by strong, gusty winds, the fire at its peak spread up-river the length of nearly four city blocks, from Market Street almost to the current wharf’s entrance at Felicity Street. The NOFD dispatched 16 units with 41 firefighters to battle the raging fire for nearly 12 hours and keep it from reaching the current wharf facility.

The fire first was reported Saturday night at 11:01 p.m., according to Capt. Edwin Holmes, the NOFD’s spokesman. It finally was brought under control at 10:54 a.m.

Holmes said the first firefighters arrived on scene at 11:13 p.m. They sounded a second alarm 19 minutes later, requesting more units after realizing the scope of the fast-moving fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Holmes said. He described the blaze as engulfing old creosote-soaked pilings and heavy timber members, which he said are difficult to ignite but “very hard to extinguish once lit.”

No injuries were reported in connection to the fire, Holmes said.

A spokesperson with the Port of New Orleans said the Market Street Wharf is no longer active and therefore will not impact any of the port’s operations along the river.

Mohammed Esaleh, who works at the Shell gas station on Tchoupitoulas Street one block from the where the fire was raging, said it caught his attention early.

“We smelled the smoke first, and then we go outside and you can see it from the West Bank and even Metairie actually, because it was a big fire,” said Esaleh.

He said the fire never got too close, but it definitely put him on edge.

“It was big,” he said. “We work in a gas station, we have a lot of gas. So, yeah ... you can imagine.”

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