Firefighters have extinguished a 4-alarm fire that destroyed a San Jose diner Saturday morning, a fire battalion chief said.
The blaze broke out in the kitchen area of Flames Coffee Shop at 1812 Hillsdale Ave. around 6:20 a.m.
A few workers were preparing to open the coffee shop and bakery at 1812 Hillsdale Ave. around 6:20 a.m. when the fire broke out in the kitchen area, San Jose fire Capt. Barry Ehlers said.
Ehlers said two of the employees ran to a fire station located just around the corner and alerted firefighters to the blaze. One of those employees was the chef, Mark Paquin, who said the wall started sharking and when he ran to the front of the restaurant, there were flames.
Knowing he and his co-workers were ill-equipped to handle the fast-moving fire, Paquin ran across the street to the nearby fire station for help.
By the time crews arrived on the scene about a minute later, thick black smoke was billowing from all sides of the restaurant, the captain said.
Fueled by cooking oils, furniture and other materials, the blaze ripped through the building, causing multiple sections of the roof to collapse.
Firefighters battled the fire from the outside and were able to keep it from spreading to neighboring businesses. The fire was knocked down around 7:30 a.m., the fire captain said.
"I've lived in this neighborhood for over 25 years, and it's just really sad to think one of the neighborhood places we used to go for breakfast....I'm really sad. I hope they get to rebuild it," neighbor Charlie Hurth said.
No injuries were reported.
The building was completely gutted by the fire, which Ehlers estimated caused more than $1 million in damage.
Although the blaze apparently began in the kitchen, investigators have not yet determined the exact cause.
Ehlers said about 75 firefighters responded to the fire, many of whom remained on scene as of 9 a.m. to root out hotspots. It took them nearly two hours to get the fire under control.
Traffic is being diverted around Hillsdale and Ross avenues and onto nearby Camden Avenue.
Flames, which is part of a popular chain in San Jose, has been at this location for two decades. Residents said it is a well-loved gathering spot for the neighborhood, and they, along with workers, are hoping the owners will decide to rebuild.