Demolition and VTA delays after S.J. fire

January 18, 2008 8:26:02 AM PST
VTA riders watch out -- several light rail stations in downtown San Jose are still closed today, after yesterday's massive fire at an historic building.

Demolition starts today and a lot of cleanup work remains, along with commuter delays. The fire department said they're confidant the fire that destroyed the vacant, historic building on South First Street is out. So overnight, the building owner has had a security company keeping watch for any problems.

The huge fire that consumed the two-story commercial building under construction started yesterday at 2:00 a.m. But flames weren't completely put out until the afternoon, when PG&E crews could safely reach a natural gas line leak inside the structure.

During the fire, one wall collapsed and because the front facade of the building was unstable, construction crews had to smash a portion of it to make it safe enough for utility workers to reach the gas valve.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has had to reroute buses on First Street and shut down its light rail track, which runs right in front of the building. Because of the danger of the remaining front wall collapsing, it's not safe to operate past it, until it's demolished today and PG&E finishes repairing the gas line.

The VTA disruptions are expected to last until approximately 5:00 p.m. today and passengers are advised to add an extra 20-30 minutes to their commute.

The closures still hold for five downtown light rail stations. Instead, bus bridges will link passengers between the stations. Also, VTA will have ambassadors all day at its displaced bus and light rail stops to help guide passengers.

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