Vallejo lumber yard fire under control

October 20, 2008 11:31:04 PM PDT
A huge fire in Vallejo after a lumber yard goes up in flames. It happened at the Foster Lumber Company on Sonoma Blvd and Valley Vista Avenue.

The fire was out in 45 minutes, in large part to some pre-planning.

When it broke out around 5:45 pm on Monday, the heat was so intense it crashed the windows at the Butter Cup Bar and Grill next door. It also caused a customer's red Honda Civic to burst into flames.

"They said you can't move the car now, you've got to get out of the restaurant. So we ran out," said Karen Valiton from Crockett.

"It happened that fast?" asked ABC7's Alan Wang.

"It happened that fast," said Valiton.

Lumber yards are a firefighter's nightmare because once they get going there's no stopping them and they can easily consume the buildings around them. Ironically, the Vallejo Fire Department decided Foster's Lumber needed to update its firefighting plan. So last week, they scouted the place out.

"So we were able to position our units strategically using the right tactics to get this fire under control and it basically didn't burn anymore than what it burned when we arrived, and that's because we knew exactly what to do as soon as we arrived on scene," said Vallejo Fire Department Captain Daniel Sarna.

When it was under control, a bulldozer began breaking up what almost became a giant bonfire. There was enough wood in that storage shed to make about five homes. Interestingly, the Vallejo fire chief says Foster Lumber, here since 1920, did not have to have an overhead sprinkler system in its storage shed.

"The way that codes are, it always comes out to costs and it always comes out to dollars," said Chief Russ Sherman from the Vallejo Fire Department.

"Even when you are dealing with something like a lumber yard, which is a potential bonfire," asked Wang.

"Absolutely, even when dealing with a lumber yard," said Sherman.

Essentially, it was grandfathered in. so despite the potential hazard, the state does not require older businesses, including lumber yards, to be up to date with some current fire prevention codes.

The cause is under investigation, but inspectors think it started somewhere in the lumber yard, near the restaurant.


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