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NOFD investigating cause of massive fire at abandoned river wharf

The fire did not threaten the current wharf, but fire crews remained on scene well into Sunday morning to monitor the area.

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Fire Department is still investigating Sunday night what caused a massive fire at the abandoned Market Street Wharf near the Lower Garden District Saturday night. 

"My roommate came yelling, 'hey something's on fire.' I walk out in the front and it's smoke, heavily smoked going across," said Tyler Romano who saw the fire from the Westbank. 

NOFD responded just after 11 p.m. to find wooden portions of what was once the Market Street Wharf on fire. A second alarm was called around 11:30 as the fire was spreading, pushing upriver by a brisk wind. 

"It was getting bigger and bigger," Romano said. 

At its worst, NOFD said the fire stretched about four blocks long from Market Street to the wharf's entrance at Felicity Street.

"The old creosote-soaked pilings and the heavy timber members of the old wharf are difficult to ignite but prove very hard to extinguish once lit," an NOFD spokesperson said in a news release. 

16 NOFD units with 41 fire personnel fought the flames to get the fire under control. Sunday afternoon, crews on the river were still spraying water onto the lingering smoke.

No injuries were reported.

NOFD said Sunday afternoon that they are still investigating what caused the fire. Multiple witnesses saw a fireworks display in the same area before they noticed any flames, but NOFD has not yet released a possible cause. 

"They had fireworks about 30 minutes prior to that," Romano said. 

According to NOFD, the fire did not threaten the current wharf, but fire crews remained on scene well into Sunday morning to monitor the area.

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