Fire breaks out in D.C. wholesale district

Flames tore through a market in the warehouse district off Florida Avenue NE late Wednesday, forcing firefighters to battle the blaze from outside the building.

The fire, whose origin was not immediately known, broke out about 10 p.m. and continued to burn shortly before midnight.

The warehouse, at Fourth and Morse Street NE, appeared to be a wholesale market that sells to small businesses in the region. It is adjacent to Union Market, a recently opened specialty-food market that features about 40 local artisans, according to its Web site. Union Market, which opened in September, plans to eventually anchor “a vibrant mix of retail, restaurants, hotel, entertainment, incubator space for new food concepts as well as retail and wholesale space,” the Web site says.

Shortly before midnight, D.C. firefighters were battling with ladders and hoses as flames and black smoke came out of the building at Fourth and Morse streets. No firefighters were visible inside.

The fire appeared to have caused significant damage to at least three wholesalers that sell Mexican fruits, seafood and handbags, among other products.

The district has long housed food markets, including Union Terminal Market, which featured hundreds of indoor food stalls when it opened in 1931.

Fire officials were not immediately available for comment.

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.

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