Evacuation orders lifted for residents impacted by 8-alarm affordable housing fire in Redwood City

ByLena Howland, Zach Fuentes, and Lauren Martinez KGO logo
Tuesday, June 4, 2024
Evacuation orders lifted after massive 8-alarm fire in Redwood City
Evacuation orders have been lifted for residents impacted by the 8-alarm fire at a Redwood City affordable housing construction site.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- Evacuation orders are being lifted for some residents impacted by the 8-alarm fire at a Redwood City affordable housing construction site, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

Residents can go to the Veterans Memorial Center for more information on who can return home. Emergency responders are on site to assist.

More than 100 firefighters battled the blaze that destroyed a six-story building that was under construction along the 2700 block of Middlefield Rd.

It started at around 10:15 a.m. on the 5th floor of the building, the sheriff's office said.

Residents living along Pacific Ave., Calvin Ave. and Dumbarton Ave. were ordered to leave.

"When I started smelling smoke and then my niece came out of the room and said, 'You know what? I think the building behind our house is burning,'" said Rene Salas, one of the evacuees.

"And we all walked outside the house....was very thick smoke and we started trying to figure out what was going on," he said. "And so I started throwing water on top of that we were very close...to about 100 feet from the fire and maybe in 10-50 minutes, I saw that police were trying to get everybody out. And that's when the fire really got strong," he said.

Construction workers were on scene at the time but there are no reports of injuries.

Fire officials said the fire started at the north-end of the building but was pushed by winds.

MORE: Corral Fire burning in Livermore-Tracy area is 75% contained, CAL FIRE says

Meteorologist Drew Tuma said winds gusted as high as 30 mph at the peak of the fire.

The affordable housing project has been nearly a decade in the making, with construction really getting underway about a year ago.

The building sits just behind Fair Oaks Health Care Center, a clinic which was evacuated and very close to homes which were also evacuated.

Now that the worst of the fire is contained crews are looking at next steps.

"The scaffolding is in place. There's also a crane that's in place that was hovering over the fire. So we will be looking into making sure that safety protocols are put in place to assess the safety of the crane to see if it needs to be disassembled. And then the scaffolding we're going to be looking at what we need to do to mitigate that concern to the neighborhood," said Jon Johnston, Division Chief Fire Marshal with the Menlo Park Fire Protection district, one of many agencies that responded to the fire in unincorporated San Mateo County.

The fire impacted commuters. Caltrain says it experienced delays.


In addition to residents being evacuated at Pacific Ave., Calvin Ave. and Dumbarton Ave, students at Garfield School were dismissed early on Monday.

School officials said in part, "we want to assure you that everyone is fine and safe at school. Families are encouraged to come and pick up their children as soon as possible. If you are unable to come by, please rest assured that your child will remain indoors and supervised at school until you are able to arrive."

County Health's Fair Oaks Health Center was also evacuated. Hospital officials said they are working with patients to reschedule appointments.

Fire officials said about 50-people from the adjacent area were evacuated because of the proximity of the fire and others were evacuated because of flying embers.

A temporary evacuation site was set up for evacuees at the Red Morton Community Center, located at 1120 Roosevelt Ave. in Redwood City. But it closed at 6 p.m. Monday.

The building under construction was supposed to be a 179-unit affordable housing project known as Middlefield Junction in North Fair Oaks, according to San Mateo County officials.

The project consisted of new apartments from one to three bedrooms, a child care center and community open space. It was expected to be completed next year.

"It's just unfortunate and it's heartbreaking that the building is probably a total loss at this point," said San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum.

"We've been working on this for 10 years and it's a travesty because in California affordable housing, so difficult to build, takes so long, the primary problem is financing. This was a unique development because it has 1, 2, 3 bedroom units. And so families would get to enjoy this new building, and childcare and community meeting rooms, so all that is gone now. And I hate to keep saying it, but it's just a tragedy," he added.

MORE: Crews battle several East Bay fires including 110-acre blaze near Livermore


The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory saying air quality for the following cities is likely to be impacted: Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Santa Clara and San Jose.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live