Officials say destroyed Lafayette building may collapse following fire

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- As officials work to investigate the cause of a late night fire that destroyed businesses in Lafayette, there is a significant concern the building could collapse.

A county contractor put up a fence Thursday around what's left of the building to make sure no one gets too close. La Finestra Ristorante, several businesses and the Chamber of Commerce were destroyed.

"It feels sad to see. It was a beautiful place and it's gone," said Vivian Andrews, a therapist who rented space in the building. "I actually imagined climbing down that redwood tree like how would I have gotten out of there."

Luckily no one was inside the building when it caught fire just before midnight, though bright red flames and smoke threatened residents who live in apartments next door. The fire was visible from Pittsburg 15 miles away.

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

Fire investigators say people also reported hearing a loud boom that may have been propane tanks bursting.
"We're taking in witness accounts, we've got some camera footage being provided to us," said Captain George Liang with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

One of the biggest concerns now is that what's left of the building could collapse.

RELATED: 3-alarm fire destroys several businesses in Lafayette

"The wall on this corner is essentially being supported by the tree," Liang said. "The wall on the backside there is leaning in and the structural supports for the interior second floor are basically burned through."
Many people like Andrews stopped by Thursday, including La Finestra's owners and others who worked at the building.

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

Fire officials estimate the loss at $1.1 million, but the damages are priceless for those worked in or visited the building often.
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