Fire Rips Through Historic San Jose IBM Complex

The cause remains under investigation.


When a passerby stopped at San Jose Fire Station 35 at around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 8 to alert Captain Trent Engler and the crew of a fire on the old IBM property, they spotted a massive column of smoke and fire.

Engler immediately requested a second-alarm to bolster the full-first alarm that had already been struck for the 69,000 square foot structure. A third-alarm was dispatched some 15 minutes later due to access difficulties and a lack of immediately available water.

Crews were forced to extend extremely long hose lays to supply the multiple hand lines, master streams, and portable monitors that were placed into service.

Over 80 firefighters battled the blaze for several hours before the majority of the flames were doused.

The complex was the subject of some dispute after historical preservationists suggested the buildings be saved due to their association with early advances in information storage technology and the unique architectural design by John Bolles. IBM has been attempting to sell the property since it closed the facility in 1996.

There were no reports of injuries. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.