Firefighters to search rubble in San Jose fire

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Montgomery Street at Park Avenue is blocked off to traffic as firefighters keep an eye on hotspots. The hope is nobody was inside when the building collapsed.

The building used to be home to a television station, once empty it became home to a few dozen homeless people for the past several years. Flames from yesterday's five alarm fire destroyed the structure, forcing those inside back out into the streets. Two dogs reportedly died in the fire.

Ben Rapisura says as many as 42 people would stay inside the building at night, but only 14 people were there when the flames started at around three yesterday afternoon. He says someone told him a person was cooking inside and started the fire. Arson investigators will determine if the fire was accidental or intentional.

"We believe there were no utilities to this building at the time of the fire but it was occupied so we believe it was caused by someone inside the building," said San Jose Fire Department Capt. Reggie Williams.

The city of San Jose bought the property with hopes of building a downtown ballpark for the Oakland A's, but it turned into a nuisance for neighbors and police. AT&T workers next door told me they've called police several times and officers say they spend a lot of time here. But now there's no building left. Firefighters must wait for some heavy equipment to arrive to move some of the steel beams and flooring before they can start going through the debris to see if there are any fire victims.

"So there's no guarantee that everybody made it out safely?" asked ABC7's Matt Keller.

"There's no guarantee. We like to search every building before we can confirm that no one is in there. We were unable to complete a search in the building because of the intensity of the fire," said Williams.

The mess is now the city's responsibility. Once the firefighters are done with their investigation -- it will be the public works department that will have to make sure this is cleaned up for safety reasons.

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