Thursday, April 25, 2013

Historic Bike Shop Burns in San Jose

Photo By John Whitaker
One of San Jose's oldest buildings burned in a 3-alarm fire on April 25th. Built in 1885, the wooden, Victorian structure suffered severe fire damage and may be lost to preservationists. Firefighters found the entire second floor of the structure ablaze when the arrived at 702 S. First Street. When a third alarm was called at 9:52 P.M., a Fire Associates response was requested for Rehab.
This structure should be familiar to many San Jose residents as it has served as a saloon, blacksmith shop and bike shop for approximately 128 years. For the past several decades, the building has been leaning at what appeared to be a severe angle while still being occupied. As drivers entered the Southbound Interstate 280 freeway onramp located directly across the street, it was hard to miss this landmark.
Because of the building's stability issues, the firefight operated primarily in a defensive mode. At one point, live wires came down forcing fire crews to temporarily abandon several of their rigs in response to a "life Safety" alert. Firefighters did an amazing job keeping the damage basically confined to the second floor of the entirely wood building.
Bruce Dembecki and Don Gilbert arrived at the fire in Fire Support Unit 2 and a rehab area was quickly established on a sidewalk near the command center. Hot coffee, cold drinks and Clif Bars were provided as the usual fare. Rehab was in operation until fire crews were released shortly after midnight.
-- Report submitted by John Whitaker