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5-Alarm Fire Blazes at San Jose Auto Shop

Firefighters will remain throughout the night at the scene of a five-alarm fire that burned two businesses in San Jose Saturday morning, a fire captain said.

Flames are still burning more than 12 hours after they first engulfed the building of an auto shop. Fire crews responded to a report of a structure fire at Commercial Street and Berryessa Road shortly before 7 a.m., San Jose fire Capt. Fernando Munoz said.

The first fire crew arrived to find the structure fully involved and quickly raised the blaze to two alarms, he said.

The fire was gradually upgraded to five alarms and Munoz said some 110 firefighters from seven agencies were called in to battle the blaze. The roof collapsed on the building, forcing crews to take a "surround and drown" tactic, while thick smoke poured into the neighborhood

"Anytime you have burning materials, such as plastics, rug material, carpet material, all that stuff, when it starts burning, it starts releasing a lot of chemicals that are very hazardous," Munoz said.

A majority of the fire was knocked down around 9:30 a.m. but numerous flare-ups prevented firefighters from entering the one-story building, he said.

Although an area east of the structure was evacuated, Munoz said the fire was contained to the single building.

Fire crews are using a backhoe to dig out some of the smoldering remains from inside and Munoz said they would likely remain on scene through Sunday morning to put out any remaining embers and conduct an investigation.

Munoz said the fire started in the front of an upholstery business housed in the metal building. The fire is not suspicious, he said.

As to the state of the building, Munoz said, "It's destroyed."

"Anytime a metal building takes on that much heat, it gets very weakened," Munoz said. "It will probably have to be demolished and get rebuilt."

Munoz said there is no damage estimate at this time because fire inspectors have not yet been able to enter the building. In addition to the upholstery business, Munoz said an auto shop was also located there.

He said the owner of the auto shop performed stereo installations and did some minor mechanic work, but he also stored 10 "collector's cars" in the building, which were also damaged.

Two people were inside the building when the blaze started but were able to escape on their own, Munoz said.

Alejandro Patino was at work nearby when he saw the fire just before 7 a.m.

"We have a car parked over there, and we tried to get it out of the way, but we couldn't because there was a fire going on," Patino said.

No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Copyright BAYCN - Bay City News
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