Shortly before 9:00 P.M. on Sunday, May 15, San Jose Fire received reports of a car on fire inside an automotive repair business on Almaden Avenue at Willow Street. The owner of the business, located at 1018 S. Almaden Ave., said they were working on the car and it caught on fire. The fire spread before anyone was able to extinguish it, and a call as made to 911 and the building evacuated.
Responding from Fire Station 26, Engine 26 reported a thick column of black smoke from the area of the fire, and arriving crews reported the building was fully involved when they arrived. A 2nd alarm was struck and crews went into defensive mode, attacking the fire initially with hand lines and the deck gun of an engine, until two truck companies could set up an aerial attack.
There were significant problems with power cables in the area. A large power pole in front of the business carried power transformers and high voltage lines, and that pole developed a significant tilt to it. Also, the building, which was not reinforced, suffered some structural problems in the fire and developed large cracks in the side walls on at least three sides. While PG&E dealt with the power issues, the structure problems caused a 20-foot collapse zone around the entire building. During the night, city engineers red-tagged the structure.
The fire, and resulting structural issues, caused the evacuations of residents from the adjacent apartment building on the "Delta" side. Several hundred PG&E customers were impacted by power outages resulting from the blaze.
Fire Associates was special-called by the IC to the 2-alarm blaze, with members Bruce Dembecki and John Whiteside responding to Fire Station 6 to pick up Fire Support Unit 2 and bring it to the scene. They stopped on the way for a supply of fresh donuts. Bruce and John were met on scene by Fire Associates member Mike Garcia and guest Daniel Capostagno. The team set up Rehab adjacent to the IC.
- A San Jose Mercury News story can be red at: Auto Shop Blaze
- Bruce's photos can be viewed at: Almaden Fire
-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki