The headquarters building for U.S. Forces Japan at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.

The headquarters building for U.S. Forces Japan at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo. (Stars and Stripes)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Personnel with U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force worked from alternate locations Friday after a fire struck their building the night before at this airlift hub in western Tokyo.

The fire occurred on the east side of Building 714’s second floor, facing Davis Street, according to an email Friday from Master Sgt. Nathaniel Allen, spokesman for Yokota’s 374th Airlift Wing. Investigators were “still assessing the full extent of the damage,” he said.

The building’s workforce was dispersed to other locations Friday “out of an abundance of caution for health and safety” until that damage assessment is complete, USFJ spokesman Maj. Tom Barger said via email Friday.

“The mission of U.S. Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force continues unabated as there are multiple systems and procedures in place designed to ensure the continuation of operations in the event of a crisis or contingency that affects our infrastructure,” he wrote.

Yokota’s fire-alarm monitoring service automatically alerted first responders Thursday evening, Allen said. Eyewitnesses also reported to the base fire department that flames were coming from the building.

Base security and first responders established a 500-foot cordon around the structure and cautioned anyone in the area to stay away, according to an 8:09 p.m. Thursday text alert and subsequent post on Yokota’s official Facebook page.

“Emergency responders were on scene within minutes of the initial report,” Allen wrote. “This exceptionally swift response was crucial in managing the situation effectively and speaks to the exemplary training and preparedness of Yokota first responders.”

No injuries resulted from the fire, Allen said.

USFJ serves as a liaison between the U.S. military throughout the country and the government of Japan. Its headquarters is a sensitive area where scores of U.S. and Japanese civilians and U.S. service members work together.

The head of USFJ, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, is a dual-hatted commander also in charge of 5th Air Force, which has authority over 15,000 airmen at three Air Force wings in Japan: the 374th at Yokota, the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa in northeastern Japan and the 18th Wing at Kadena on Okinawa.

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Joseph Ditzler is a Marine Corps veteran and the Pacific editor for Stars and Stripes. He’s a native of Pennsylvania and has written for newspapers and websites in Alaska, California, Florida, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania. He studied journalism at Penn State and international relations at the University of Oklahoma.

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