3-alarm fire at Los Altos shopping center on Christmas Day deemed 'under control,' officials say

ByLauren Martinez and Lena Howland KGO logo
Tuesday, December 26, 2023
Fire at Los Altos shopping center deemed 'under control': officials
A three-alarm fire that damaged a commercial building in Los Altos early on Christmas morning was declared under control, officials said.

LOS ALTOS, Calif. (KGO) -- A three-alarm fire that damaged a commercial building in Los Altos early on Christmas morning was declared under control as of about 5:20 p.m., police and fire officials said.

UPDATE: Crews remain at Los Altos shopping center fire site due to further risk of collapse

Eastbound El Camino Real will remain closed between San Antonio Road and Sherwood Avenue until the building can be demolished, fire officials said.

No injuries were reported in the fire, according to police.

The fire started at around 4:50 a.m., involving a two-story shopping center with multiple businesses.

It happened at a commercial structure on El Camino Real between North San Antonio Road and Sherwood Avenue, Santa Clara County fire officials said on social media at 5:40 a.m.

Firefighters told ABC7 News at around 10:45 a.m. the fire had been contained, but it's still not out yet because of the roof collapse.

Luckily, it happened when all businesses were closed so no one was hurt.

"I was just getting up, so getting ready to enjoy Christmas with my family," Raul Tamayo, owner of Tamayo's Judo said.

Tamayo owns a judo and martial arts school on the bottom floor of the two-story 20,000 square foot shopping center.

Just as he was about to start opening presents Monday morning, one of his students' parents called to let him know his business was up in flames.

"I'm in shock still, I just opened up my business, it's only been a year," Tamayo said. "So it was starting to go really well, great location, nice building, and then this."

Firefighters say the call first came in when all of the businesses were closed and no one was inside.

"That's one of the reasons why we're having trouble getting water into the building - which is collapsed - so that's creating void spaces for the fire," Matt Yost, Deputy Chief of the Santa Clara County Fire Department said.

But even four hours later, the fire was still burning, with more flames continuing to pop up.

Firefighters couldn't get inside because of a roof collapse.

"During the firefight, there was some structural collapse, including the roof, and the HVAC systems collapsed into the building, that's one of the reasons we pulled all of the firefighters out and we went into more of a defensive posture," Yost said.

Carey Wong, a neighbor who lives just a block away, woke up to the smell of smoke thinking it was his apartment.

"I walked outside and I smelled more smoke," Wong said.

And he says the shopping center is made up of at least 10 other businesses including an SAT prep center, a café, a salon and more - although firefighters say it's unclear the extent of the damage and how many total businesses were affected.

"I really feel sorry for the businesses that work out of there, the store and the cafes, I hope the ones in the area aren't too badly affected," Wong said.

Firefighters say the cause of this fire is still investigation at this time.

Matt Yost, deputy chief, said an engine will remain at the building overnight for fire watch.

There is still concern the building could collapse outwardly.

"Due to the fact that we have a lot of fire damage, the building is structurally unsafe, so we've moved back, giving it a perimeter," Yost said.

Yost said come Tuesday morning, if the building contents have cooled, fire investigators can take a closer look inside.

Fire officials said eastbound El Camino between San Antonio and Sherwood will remain closed until the building can be demolished.

Jenny Monsivais is an office manager for a construction company that had an office on the second floor.

"It's devastating. Devastating. I still can't believe that it's gone," Monsivais said.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Stay with ABC7 News for the latest details on this developing story.

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