Investigators search for cause of SJ fire

March 10, 2009 11:26:15 AM PDT
Investigators are searching for clues to the cause of a fire in San Jose that triggered a shelter-in-place alert and brought in a hazardous materials team. SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

The fire broke out at the J&K Anodize, Inc. Company at 354 Umbarger Road, next to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.

"Our units arrived and found smoke and water emanating from the building," said Capt. Steve Alvarado, San Jose fire department.

The San Jose fire department not only had flames to contend with at the metal plating shop on Umbarger Road. Based on chemical information from a placard outside the shop, crews knew they faced a potentially toxic chemical situation inside.

"So what we did is we established a shelter in place initially and we set up a hot zone and we denied entry at that point," said Capt. Alvarado.

Shortly after the fire was reported around 4:20 this morning, the changing direction of the wind prompted emergency personnel to request residents stay inside their homes, unless they had to leave to work. Until a hazardous materials team could arrive, they let the shop's sprinklers do the work.

"Eventually the sprinklers did extinguish this fire our units did set," said Capt. Alvarado.

Fire officials say the fire was not a large one, and was out within a couple of hours. Once investigators made their way inside, they discovered the hazardous chemicals used to operate the J&K metal plating business did *not* burn in the fire. Also, tests of water run-off also showed that no chemicals got into the local water system. But this shop was already facing problems, shut for a week due to code violations.

"On March 2nd, some of our folks from the bureau of Fire Prevention came down, and they did an inspection. At that time they were concerned with the way that the runoff was handled, as far as the way waste water was being released," said Capt. Alvarado.

This metal plating shop was still fixing the violations when this fire broke out. Now it won't be operating anytime soon, as investigators look into the cause, including the possibility of arson.

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