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San Jose Firefighters Contain Massive Warehouse Fire

| January 9, 2014
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Update, 1:05 p.m .: Some later details on this morning’s five-alarm fire in central San Jose, courtesy of Bay City News:

The fire was reported at East Julian and North 28th streets at 5:37 a.m.
San Jose fire Capt. Cleo Doss said the first crews arrived at 5:43 a.m. He described the warehouse as a roughly 125,000-square-foot building that houses multiple companies in four or five connected buildings.

Fire Capt. Barry Ehlers said the owner had repeatedly built on additions to the original building.

A part of the building that collapsed is marked with a sign that says “Dave’s Hay Barn.” A sign on another part of the building says “Vintage Roof Tile.”

Ehlers said the fire was reported by two Vintage Roof Tile employees this morning. Both workers got out of the building safely.

The employees told firefighters that there were tanks inside the building that contained propane to fuel forklifts, and Ehlers said that may explain why a number of explosions were heard while the fire was burning.

He said much of the warehouse space is vacant but that the building houses a handful of companies, including plumbing, hay, sheetrock and insulation businesses.

The fire was contained at about 8:30 a.m. but hot spots continued to burn for hours. There were about 100 firefighters at the scene at the height of the blaze, Doss said.

No injuries have been reported, but Ehlers said four or five homes on nearby West Court were evacuated as a precaution. In addition, a shelter-in-place order was issued for the area. As of 10:30 a.m., the order was still in effect for an apartment complex and houses on Wooster Avenue.

Update, 8:35 a.m.: San Jose fire officials say they have controlled a five-alarm fire that has destroyed three warehouse buildings in a complex north and east of downtown. (Other details below.)

Earlier post: A five-alarm fire at a San Jose warehouse complex has prompted a shelter-in-place order for residents northeast of downtown and has prompted one nearby school to close down for the day.

The fire started in an 80,000-square-foot warehouse near 28th and Julian streets about 5:30 a.m., engulfing the building and sending a thick column of black smoke into the air. The blaze then spread to at least one adjacent warehouse. The fire and heavy smoke prompted the Rocketship Discovery Prep School, on Wooster Avenue just a few hundred feet from the fire, to cancel classes for the day. A second school a little farther from the scene, Empire Gardens Elementary, is also closed.

KTVU reports that PG&E has cut power to about 4,000 homes in the area, and reporters on the scene report that several electrical transformers near the fire exploded.

The fire is burning adjacent to U.S. 101, and the California Highway Patrol shut down the Julian and McKee Road interchange from the freeway. Drivers were advised to keep windows rolled up because of smoke in the area.

Here’s a summary from the San Jose Mercury News:

Heavy flames were shooting from the southern end of the structure as of 7 a.m. and traffic on Julian was closed, with police diverting vehicles. A large cloud of black smoke hovered over the scene as fire crews pounded the blaze with water.

Brian Silveira, an employee of a business a few blocks from the warehouse, said he arrived at work at 5:30 a.m. and saw a few flames in one corner of the building. At that point fire crews had not arrived. Within minutes, the fire quickly spread, Silveira said.

An animal feed store was located in the warehouse, along with other businesses, Silveira said.

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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