3-alarm fire destroys several businesses in Lafayette

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- A fire ripped through an East Bay commercial complex, scaring neighbors and leveling multiple businesses.

The owners of La Finestra Ristorante in Lafayette needed comforting this morning as they faced the damage from last night's huge fire. It destroyed a total of nine businesses - including the chamber of commerce and a skincare salon. The salon owner was also heartbroken.

"It's my livelihood. I've just got to move on and find somewhere else, but it's an amazing building," said Marta Chavalas, salon owner.

Firefighters got the call just before midnight; they say you could see it from Pittsburg -- 15 miles away. At one point they had to call East Bay MUDD and ask that they increase the water pressure. The 9,000 to 12,000 gallons of water they were using per minute was depleting the system.

"I saw nothing but flames through my window," said Jordan Lockwood, Lafayette resident.

Lockwood was asleep in her apartment next door when she heard explosions and saw the fire. Firefighters say that was likely the sound of bursting propane tanks.

"It was a huge boom -- either a gunshot or a bomb," said Lockwood.

"They had some outdoor heaters with propane tanks, one of them did let loose while we were here on scene," said Contra Costa County Fire Marshal Robert Marshall.

Firefighters estimate the fire did about $1.1 million worth of damage.

The businesses may be gone, but loyal customers are still here. Many stopped by to see the aftermath and share their memories.

"It was wonderful, it was like an old fashioned Italian restaurant. It was nice, cute inside -- delicious food," said Jackie Casci, Lafayette resident.

Firefighters are investigating the cause of the fire. The blaze did not spread to other buildings. There are no reports of injuries.
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