Four-Alarm Fire Destroys San Jose, California Office

A four-alarm fire in West San Jose destroyed the offices of an influential regional association of apartment-building owners and other businesses inside a 9,000-square-foot office building early today, injuring two firefighters.

San Jose fire Capt Phil Manley said the first engine company arrived on the scene at 792 Meridian Way within five minutes of the fire's being reported at about 12:30 a.m., and could see the fire from a mile away.

``They called in a second alarm even before they got out of the cab,'' Manley said. ``The fire got a head start on us.''

The building is on a street off Meridian Avenue, near Pedro Street and an onramp to Interstate 280 north, in an area known as Midtown. It's a middle-class neighborhood of large apartment complexes, some offices and some single-family homes. No other buildings were affected by the fire.

The entire attic space was on fire when the first crew arrived. Firefighters gained entry into the building as the blaze quickly escalated to four alarms. But crews soon had to pull out when the roof threatened to collapse, as it finally did.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. There was no immediate damage estimate, but Manley said the building was ``totaled.''

One business located in the building was the 3,500-member Tri-County Apartment Association, which represents the owners of thousands of rental units in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. The phone lines at the organization's offices on other counties were busy this morning.

Also affected is Labor Connection, which provides temporary employment services. Fire officials didn't immediately know the names of two other businesses located there.

Manley said the fire was knocked down within three hours but that crews would be there the rest of the day watching for hot spots, cleaning up and beginning to investigate.

One firefighter will be out of work with second-degree burns on one hand, while another suffered less serious first-degree burns on his face, Manley said.