Sunday, March 14, 2010

CCFPD: 4 Alarms at Walnut Creek Lumber Yard structure fire


WALNUT CREEK — A four-alarm fire ravaged Piedmont Lumber on Saturday, slowing adjacent highway traffic and shutting down blocks of other local businesses.By 6 p.m., firefighters had extinguished most of the flames and only wisps of smoke rose from the business at 2860 North Main St., not far from Interstate 680 and the Pleasant Hill border.
Crews were expected to remain on-site throughout the night, checking for hot spots, said John Ross, interim chief of Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
The fire destroyed a warehouse at the rear of the property and leveled a retail store, but there were no injuries. Investigators believe the fire originated somewhere between the warehouse and the store, said Ross, adding that damage estimates should be available today.
The investigation is continuing.
As flames leaped from the roof and through the front entrance of the store, onlookers could hear a series of rapid explosions as the fire reached cans of paint and other flammables.
RAW Video:


4 Alarms at East Bay Lumber Yard
Thick, black smoke could be seen as far away as Oakland and Livermore, and the billowing plumes initially slowed traffic on I-680 to a crawl in both directions. Emergency personnel closed nearby streets to traffic.
A freeway motorist reported the emergency at 1:44 p.m., with more cell phone calls following from other area drivers.
Upon arrival, responders immediately declared a two-alarm fire, said Ross, whose headquarters is one mile from the business.
Because the lumberyard was closed, firefighters initially evacuated the adjoining U.S. Bank branch at North Main Street and Treat Boulevard as well as a nearby animal boarding facility, and then turned their hoses on the buildings to prevent them from catching fire.
Pets staying at North Main Pet Lodge all were transported to the county's animal shelter in Martinez, Ross said.
None of those evacuated was injured, and although a few people had minor cases of
smoke inhalation they refused medical attention, the interim chief said.Emergency crews closed off numerous streets surrounding the lumberyard and at one point firefighters atop four cranes were spraying water simultaneously.
Walnut Creek limousine driver Jon McHenry was filling up his car at a Chevron gas station opposite the lumberyard when he saw white smoke followed by a loud explosion.
"That's when the flames really started going," he said.
Cliff Deutscher, who also heard the boom from his backyard about a quarter-mile away, said the fire had been going for quite a while.
At the fire's peak, about 70 personnel were at the scene, including crews from San Ramon Valley Fire and Moraga-Orinda Fire districts as well as hazardous materials teams.

Source: Contra Costa Times Article - Link

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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