It took just minutes for Flames, a popular South Bay coffee shop, to go up in flames Saturday morning.
Only 150 yards separated the Flames restaurant on Hillsdale Avenue from San Jose’s Fire Station 9. Firefighters were on the scene within a minute, but it was already too late.
Firefighters say there was no way to get inside to fight the fire.
All weekend long, people stopped by the Cambrian Park Flames location, which Saturday morning was gutted by a 4-alarm fire.
RAW VIDEO: Flames Restaurant Destroyed by 4-Alarm Fire
Ten-year old Braden Hawthorne’s family used to stop in on bike outings, like the one they were out on Monday.
“We just wanted to see if they’re still here or not,” Braden said.
Little more than the skeleton remains of a building one contractor told NBC Bay Area was state-of-the-art when it went up in 1968.
The age of the building is one reason Rhonda Johnson, who works nearby, thinks the restaurant burned so fast.
“These buildings are older buildings, and I don’t thing to many have sprinklers in them,” Johnson said.
The fire started just before 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning as several employees were getting things ready ahead of opening time and the Saturday morning breakfast rush.
“I was in the back preparing to heat up the food, and all of a sudden the wall started shaking and I ran to the front, and there was a fire,” chef Mark Paquin said.
Paquin ran out the door and across the street to the fire station, but it was still too late to save the business.
“They tried to make an interior attack but were unable to because the fire was so well advanced at that point, with too much smoke and heat,” San Jose Fire Captain Ray Nibbi said.
The fire went to 4-alarms, and as it raged, firefighters were watching one nearby business in particular, a gas station right next door. But, with 75 firefighters and 26 engines and ladder trucks on the job, Captain Nibbi said the flames didn’t reach the gas station or tires stored next door.
Nibbi said that while those 75 firefighters and their rigs were responding to this fire, the department shifted resources around the city so it was covered.