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Four-Alarm Fire Erupts at San Jose (CA) Building

Robert Salonga

Mercury News


Jan. 7—SAN JOSE — A heavy fire broke out at a commercial building in the heart of downtown San Jose on Thursday morning, damaging the structure that houses some of the area’s most popular bars and eateries.

The four-alarm blaze was initially reported at 10:19 a.m. at 81 East San Fernando St., according to the San Jose Fire Department. It was steadily raised in its severity classification within an hour, but a fire spokesperson stressed that the two-story building was unoccupied at the time the fire started, and that no injuries have been reported.

Heavy smoke and flames could be seen emanating from the building, which houses businesses including Cinebar — its owners say it is San Jose’s oldest bar, dating to 1929 — the bar Los San Patricios and Chacho’s eatery.

It was not immediately clear how heavily the businesses were damaged, but SJFD spokesperson Erica Ray said firefighters were able to isolate the fire to the original structure and keep it from spreading to adjacent buildings.

The blaze hit a downtown block whose businesses were already struggling to survive.

An emotional Stacy Sutherland, co-owner of Cinebar, which has been closed since the coronavirus shut down California bars last March, raced to the scene as soon as she heard about the fire.

“It’s a nightmare. You put all your heart and soul into something,” she said, her voice trailing off. “We were closed but we were fighting so hard to be able to continue after this pandemic let up and now, I don’t know where we are going to go from here.”

Sutherland said she was hoping the damage to Cinebar would be limited to water damage, but she said the extent of destruction wouldn’t be known until firefighters get inside.

Jorge Sanchez, the owner of Chacho’s, had permanently closed his restaurant in December, citing the huge losses caused by the coronavirus economy. “It hurts. It’s very disappointing that local, state, and federal (officials) don’t understand our hurt,” Sanchez told NBC Bay Area at the time.

Check back later for updates to this story.


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