“It’s the type of evacuation you see in movies where people are basically grabbing their keys and their shoes and their wallet, just getting out and making sure they have their loved ones with them,” said Santa Clara Fire Department (SCFD) Battalion Chief Drew Miller of the June 28 construction fire on El Camino Real.
And that’s just what the people on Clay Street did. The homes located behind the fire were in danger of catching fire too. But the neighbors say a quick response from SCFD was what saved them.
One neighbor told The Weekly, “The heat from the fire at my front door was intense. The Fire Department was there almost instantly…It so easily could have spread with horrible consequences.”
Another neighbor, Erica, was inspired to collect donations for the firefighters.
In a flyer placed on doorsteps throughout the neighborhood, Erica said, “I know we are all so thankful for how quickly the firefighters responded, and for all their hard work! I wanted to show them how much I appreciate everything they did.”
Erica collected donations of food and thank you cards for the firefighters and dropped them off at Station 1 on July 3.
“When we have interactions with [the people who live on Clay Street] they’re always pretty emotional, thankful, but emotional,” said Miller. He says while the gifts are appreciated, they certainly aren’t necessary.
“It’s our honor and our privilege to serve,” said Miller. “Of course, it’s always nice to receive things in the fire house, people stopping by, letting us know. When people drop off cookies, brownies and things like that, they definitely don’t go to waste. They never find their way into the garbage can or anything. Firefighters are pretty good at handling that detail pretty well.”
The quick response from residents allowed firefighters to get equipment into place quickly. As a result, all of the homes on Clay Street were saved.
“We preplan, we train for these types of facilities,” said Miller. “We have specific target hazards in our City that are identified in advance, structures that are open frame construction with all the development going on in the City, because the fire sprinklers and things like that aren’t in place on them when they’re being built.”
“If you talk to any of the people on Clay Street or any of the firefighters who first showed up, there are large ash embers downwind of the incident itself,” said Miller. “We had people patrolling downwind, looking at other areas that could potentially catch fire and we were fortunate that none of that happened and the fire streams that were on scene were put in place effectively and in a timely enough manner to where that ember spread was limited.”
The development that caught fire was called the Anantara Villas. It was a 56-unit condominium complex. It was almost completely destroyed by the fire.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. One construction worker suffered a sprained ankle. No one else was hurt.