Large fire damages historic San Jose building

April 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thursday evening a large fire burned one of the oldest buildings in San Jose. The building is on South First Street near I-280.

The fire started just before 9:30 p.m. and firefighters arrived on scene in just four minutes. When they arrived, they saw lots of flames and smoke coming out of every window of the second floor.

The firefighters also had another major challenge to deal with. The power lines were down, so their arrack wasn't immediate. Once the power was turned off, they got to work fighting the fire from above and from the ground.

Firefighters will not enter the building yet because there are several hot spots and the entire building is leaning to the right and could collapse at any moment.

"Victorians have what we call balloon-frame type of construction. So it actually allows the fire to travel through the walls. So the fire started on the first floor, it can travel through the walls up into the second floor and up into the attic space. So fire actually travels a lot faster in these structures than conventional structures," said San Jose Fire Capt. Reggie Williams.

When asked if that is what he think happened, Williams replied, "Absolutely. In this particular structure is old, it's older and we don't know what the fire load was on the second floor."

The building is a historical building. Fabers Cyclery was housed in the bottom floor for 101 years and it just closed this past February.

We spoke with the owner and he was out of town. He said that he thought the last bike had been picked up just this morning. Fabers bills itself as the oldest continuously running bike shop in the U.S. It first opened at the corner of South First Street and Margaret in 1912. It was a bike store, repair shop, and museum, all in one.

No surrounding buildings have been evacuated and the fire is under control.


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