CONCORD (KPIX 5) — Demolition crews in Concord made progress Thursday clearing the debris left by massive fire that destroyed an apartment complex under construction early Tuesday morning.
All day Thursday, crews were tearing down walls, even as what is left of the building continues to smolder.
The three-alarm blaze caused about $55 million in damage and sent two people to the hospital with smoke inhalation injuries as it ripped through a nearly three-acre site with 180 buildings under construction around 1 a.m. Tuesday.
Over 200 people living in the apartment building next door were forced to evacuate.
It’s been a slow process of demolishing what’s left of this gutted-out building. Crews have been tearing it down piece by piece, waiting to make sure it’s safe to tear down.
Crews came as far as LA and San Diego to investigate the scene, even bringing their arson K-9s with them to sniff through the wreckage.
Tow trucks also began hauling out several cars destroyed Wednesday when scaffolding and part of the structure collapsed onto the street.
In a bit of good news, Galindo Street, a major thoroughfare, has reopened, city officials said.
Alpine Pastry & Cakes, a neighboring bakery at 1848 Willow Pass Road was just 30 feet away from the fire. It has been forced to close temporarily as a result of the fire.
The building sustained water damage, but the owners are cleaning up the facility and hope to reopen soon.
Alpine Pastry & Cake owner Ernst Freitag said they were lucky not to have sustained more damage.
“There was a wall of flames at times if the wind would’ve shifted in another direction we would’ve been up in smoke,” said Freitag.
They were briefly allowed back in their shop to collect their wedding cake orders. They now have the unenviable task of telling every bride and groom-to-be that they won’t be able to provide a wedding cake this weekend.
“The worst part for us at the moment is that we could not call our customers,” said Freitag. “They’re expecting a wedding cake on the weekends. I’m sure most people paid attention because of the coverage, but some people don’t. And they’re gonna have a wedding and they will wonder why the cake has not appeared.”
“And at least we can call them and personally apologize for not being able to make the cakes,” said Freitag’s wife and co-owner of the shop, Gabriela.
Despite the hardship, the Freitags say they won’t let the closure get them down.
“One of our employees said it’s the little bakery that could and would so that’s gonna be our new motto,” said Gabriela.
The building under construction that burned is said to have been roughly 60 percent completed, with exposed timber framing and no sheetrock to prevent the spread of the fire, making the blaze similar to others that destroyed apartment complexes that were under construction in Oakland and Emeryville in 2016 and 2017.
Those fires were determined to be acts of arson and the ATF announced in July a $100,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest and conviction.
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