YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Investigators aren’t sure what triggered the devastating fire that consumed a Defense Finance and Accounting Service Japan administrative office, but there were no signs of foul play, base officials said Wednesday.

No one was inside when smoke was spotted and alarms sounded about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. About 120 people worked in the one-story building, across the street from Yokota’s flight line. There were no reports of injuries.

The blaze raged throughout the night as firefighters mostly assumed a defensive posture, laboring to keep it from reaching an adjoining compound on the south end. The massive response included 38 firefighters, five fire engines, two ladder trucks and a command vehicle from local Japanese fire departments.

On Wednesday afternoon, they were still trying to douse hot spots and keep embers from flaring up. Bulldozers cleared away big chunks of steel and other debris to aid that effort.

"We’re putting out spot fires right now and making the facility safe," said Senior Master Sgt. Phil Nixon of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, the on-scene incident commander.

DFAS Japan officials also apparently were trying to salvage records, documents and Treasury bonds possibly stored in fireproof safes.

DFAS officials weren’t available for comment.

The building damage is estimated at $13.5 million, but it’s not clear how much more might have been lost in the fire, base officials said. An investigation will include assessment of the building’s internal contents.

"That’s the next step for us," said Col. Jeff Newell, the 374th Airlift Wing commander. "Obviously, it’s a total loss."

First Lt. Tania Bryan, a wing spokeswoman, said a safety investigation board will look into the cause of the fire, but its members haven’t been determined.

DFAS Japan prepares payments for all U.S. forces in the Western Pacific. It provides finance and accounting services to more than 200 Department of Defense agencies in the region.

Another 80 people with the organization work in Building 104, which could serve as an alternate duty location for the displaced employees, officials said.

Newell said the immediate challenge is to make sure the DFAS Japan mission resumes and then find suitable office space on base for relocation.

Water conservation measures are in place on the main part of Yokota after firefighters pumped more than 1 million gallons on the flames, Newell said. Fussa and Hamura cities also contributed from their supply.

He said the 800,000-gallon storage capacity in the base’s main section was down to 10 percent at one point. However, it’s separate from water towers used on Yokota’s east and west sides.

"It may take days to replenish," Newell said. "When there is low demand, the levels go up. We’ll continue to provide updates."

The 40,000-square-foot DFAS Japan structure, built in 1948, had been scheduled for demolition in the next few years.

"This is a reminder that fires are extremely devastating. Some of our buildings are old and more susceptible. We need to make sure we’re all aware of fire safety practices," Newell said.

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