Eichler Homes Damaged, Evacuations Ordered in San Jose Fire

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    San Jose firefighters on Monday battled a 3-alarm blaze on the 4600 block of Mossbrook Circle, near Westgate Mall. Nannette Miranda reports.

    San Jose firefighters on Tuesday morning were still conducting a "firewatch" after a 3-alarm blaze destroyed three "Eichler homes" with historic notoriety and displaced seven residents.

    But by 6:30 a.m., crews had left the scene after they were satisfied that all the hot spots had been put out. That capped a major firefighting effort in the 600 block of Mossbrook Circle, near Westgate Mall, in southwest San Jose. The fire was reported just before 3 p.m. on Monday. What caused it is still unknown.

    "People started banging on my front door," said Judy Allen, who was one of about a dozen people evacuated during the blaze. "I heard them yelling 'Judy, Judy you gotta get out.'"

    Other residents near the blaze were ordered to shelter in place by police. Police declared the neighborhood, which is near the Campbell border, a hazmat area while firefighters worked to contain the blaze.

    Firefighters said a home was completely destroyed in the blaze, and two others were damaged.

    The homeswere built in 1961 and 1962 by post-war developer Joseph Eichler. The Eichler architecture is distinctively modern and came to define "California living." Typical features include glass walls, atriums and open floor plans.

    Bulldozers were brought in to demolish the homes, to make sure debris under the hotspots were coompletely out.

    A natural gas line also fueled flames that burned through some electrical wires, officials said.

    PG&E was called to the scene after flames damaged a residential gas meter and electrical wires caught fire, PG&E spokeswoman Janna Morris said. PG&E crews cut off gas at the scene at about 4 p.m. after a damaged residential gas meter caused gas to escape, Morris said.

    As a precaution, San Jose police evacuated residents impacted by the fire and those who live nearby to Moreland Middle School, located about a block west of the fire.

    No one has been reported injured in the fire and the cause has not been determined. Officials added that seven people were displaced by the blaze.

    Eichler built 11,000 homes in nine communities in Northern California from the 1950s to 1970s. Eichler homes can also be found in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto.

    Bay City News Service contributed to this report.