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Clinic fire continues to burn

Submitted by on 1, March 29, 2009 – 7:32 pmNo Comment

118291101Fire crews are continuing to fight a two-alarm fire that gutted a former medical clinic on the site of the planned Alameda Landing development.

Alameda Fire Division Chief Rick Zombeck said at around 7:30 p.m. that crews were working to excavate their way toward the middle of the building in order to extinguish the fire, which at one point had burned through the roof of the clinic and had flames that were over a hundred feet high.

The timber wood frame clinic, which contains asbestos and was loaded with garbage, is on the old Fleet Industrial Supply Center property behind the College of Alameda.

Crews were also dousing the fire from above with massive hoses on aerial ladder trucks. A thick, brownish smoke hung over nearby roads and was visible from several miles away. Fire was still visible through the windows of the building and its crackling sound was audible to a reporter standing nearby.

The San Jose Mercury News reported this afternoon that fire officials had issued a health advisory for everyone a mile east of the building, asking folks to stay indoors and keep their windows and doors closed because the smoke was so thick.

Firefighters didn’t yet know the cause of the fire or who started it.

Because the building is uninhabited and in poor condition, firefighters took a defensive position in fighting it, Zombeck said, working to contain the fire so it doesn’t spread to another building. After the fire is out, he said firefighters will pull the unstable parts of the building down, pull the debris out and extinguish it.

“We’ll leave it in a safe condition,” Zombeck said. “Beyond that, it will be up to the city to decide whether to tear it down.”

Zombeck said firefighters had responded to and extinguished three small fires at the dilapidated, graffiti-strewn building – at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, midnight today and 1:30 a.m. today – before finding massive flame spurts shooting through the building’s third floor roof, at 2:12 a.m.

Every Alameda firefighter was called to duty to fight the fire, and at one point 45 firefighters were on hand to battle the blaze, including personnel from the Oakland Fire Department and Alameda County Fire Department.

The Red Cross and crews from NRC Environmental Services also were on hand to provide support.

The building sits on land that was due to become the Alameda Landing development. The development was placed on hold by ProLogis/Catellus in the wake of that company’s development freeze. But representatives from the company recently told city officials they may seek to build a standalone Target store as they wait for the economy to improve.

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