Trio of Fires Keep SJ Crews Scrambling

Thursday, Aug 26, 2010  |  Updated 2:57 PM PDT
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San Jose Fire on Rockdale Drive

Mike Anderson

A home on Rockdale Ave. was destroyed by fire August 26.

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Three early morning fires in San Jose destroyed two homes, killed two dogs and caused $1 million in damage to an asphalt plant, a San Jose fire spokeswoman said.

The first fire was reported just before 4 a.m. at Reed and Graham, an asphalt production company at 690 Sunol St., near Interstate Highway 280. The blaze caused more than $1 million in damage and disabled a mixing unit, which San Jose fire Capt. Debbie Ward said will affect the company's production.

Shortly after 5 a.m., firefighters were called to 921 Rockdale Drive, where a two-alarm fire was burning at a home.

Ward said a resident's barking dog, a pit bull,  woke him up and the man saw smoke coming from a door that leads from the kitchen to the garage.

"Everybody is always giving her a bad rap," homeowner Joe Lujan said. "But she's a good dog."

The man, his wife and their son were able to escape but the home was destroyed.  San Jose Fire Capt. Mike Van Elzart said the vehicles outside the house were also damaged and some embers landed on neighboring rooftops

Van Elzart said forty seven firefighters initially responded to the fire at Rockdale Drive before they needed mutual aid backup.

Firefighters were still at the scenes of those two fires when a larger blaze was reported at 910 Del Monte Place at 5:22 a.m.

A woman was coming home from walking one of her dogs when she heard a loud boom. She put the dog back inside the house, where she thought it was safer, but then saw smoke coming from the garage and called 911, Ward said.

Because they were busy with the other fires, it took firefighters about 10 minutes to arrive, which Ward said is "way outside" the department's target response time, which is eight minutes. The house was engulfed in flames when they got there, and firefighters focused on preventing the blaze from spreading to adjacent homes, Ward said.

Firefighters were still trying to extinguish the three-alarm fire shortly before 8 a.m. Ward said it appears the woman's two dogs, a Weimaraner and a  Rottweiler, died in the blaze. She said the loud boom the woman heard may have been caused by a ruptured gas line.

About a dozen households were without gas service this morning, Ward said. Other than the dogs that died, no injuries were reported in any of the three blazes.

Ward said the department hopes to have fire crews wrap up their response to all three fires soon.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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