Friday, May 18, 2012

Bomb Scare Causes Neighborhood Evacuation

A very busy month of May for Fire Associates got busier on Friday, May 19, when the San Jose Fire Department called for our assistance in Willow Glen.

And, this was not your usual fire response.

At approximately 9:30 A.M., the San Jose Police Department received a bomb threat call at a business in downtown Willow Glen. According to reports, police officers found threatening notes attached to the business' doors and a suspicious, liquid-filled bottle by the rear door. To make matters more interesting, an unknown white powder trail lead up to the bottle in question. Police immediately backed off, called for the area to be evacuated, and requested assistance from fire department Hazmat Units. The business was reported by police to be "Nail Spa by Tammy" at 1302 Lincoln Ave.

The fire response was impressive. The San Jose Fire Department responded their Command Van, the HIT Task Force, USARs 34A and B, as well as Santa Clara County's Hazmat unit and Breathing Support rig.

As the event lasted through the morning, and with the lunch hour rapidly approaching, a request was made for Fire Associates presence to serve the meal. Responding to the 11:08 A.M. page was FASCV life-member Don Gilbert in Fire Support Unit 2. With FSU-2's home at Station 6 just down the street, this was one of the few times when Don could have said "Support Unit 2 en route...and on scene!" in the same radio message. He was soon joined by FASCV members John Whitaker, Bob Gundrum, Jerry Haag, Ron Green, Mike Chappell and George Hoyt.

A rehab area was set up near the command post in the parking lot of the Chase Bank located on the corner of Lincoln and Minnesota Avenues. This location was south of the 300-foot evacuation zone that had been set up by the SJPD. The meal service area was set up under FASCV's new 12x12 "Easi-up" awning which provided shade for the emergency personnel on the 81-degree day. John Whitaker and Jerry Haag were dispatched to a nearby taqueria and returned with 35 burritos for hungry fire crews who had not eaten since being dispatched. Cold beverages and Clif Bars were also in hot demand.

After several hours of waiting for police robots to collect samples of the material, and the HIT team to determine its composition, the substances were determined to be water and corn starch.

So, with the threat minimized, emergency crews were routed through the meal area, and then released to return to quarters. Fire Associates stayed until the last crews were fed, and then were released at approximately 3:00 P.M.