San Jose residents mourn loss of building damaged in fire

April 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many people are showing up in downtown San Jose to see the burned-out shell of a historically important building. Meantime, firefighters are resorting to alternative methods to make sure there are no victims inside the building at South 1st and Margaret streets.

Firefighters are just now getting a good look inside the building. Though they say the building was vacant at the time of the fire, they're still checking to make sure there wasn't anybody inside. To many people in San Jose, this was more than just a building.

"Well, it's very sad," San Jose resident Leticia Domingo said.

Domingo was just one of several people who stopped by Friday morning to see what was left of Fabers Cyclery. For 101 years, the business was on the bottom floor of the historic building. It just closed this past February.

People wearing Fabers sweatshirts describe a place that was much more than a bike shop.

"Because it was like a clubhouse," Domingo said. "He did more than just fix bikes, he had barbeques and shows."

Anthony Apodaca rolled out a bike he built with scrap pieces from Fabers. He spent six summers here, putting bikes together and selling them.

"It wasn't work," Apodaca said. "It was just, doing a favor, you were fixing your bicycle, you were helping somebody else with their bike. It's not like anybody ever got rich off this place."

The fire started around 9:30 p.m. Thursday. The structure was built here on South 1st Street in 1884. The building is vacant, but a woman and her child were on the scene Thursday night claiming they had access to the place. Firefighters don't know for sure whether they were inside at the time.

"We spoke with her, and the information she gave us at the time was not very reliable," SJFD Captain Reggie Williams said.

Firefighters were not able to go inside Thursday night or early the next morning because the building seemed unstable. So they peeked inside from up above to try and confirm that no one was in there.

While firefighters try to figure out the stability of the building and what could have caused this fire, Fabers enthusiasts shared their memories.

"Some really unique and special bikes, and if you didn't have a lot of money you could come to Fabers and he'd put something together for ten or twenty bucks," Domingo said. "Kept the homeless on bikes, you know."

She was talking about the owner of Fabers, and we're told he moved out a couple of weeks ago, but still had some valuable pieces inside. The owner of the building is here on scene, but did not want to talk on camera.

Meanwhile, the ATF is on scene. Agents will be helping San Jose firefighters dig through the rubble and try to find the cause of this fire.


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