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“Undetermined” Cause of June Fire on El Camino Real

The investigation into what caused a massive fire at a construction site on El Camino Real is now closed, but the results don’t say much. The Santa Clara Fire Department (SCFD) says the cause of the June 28 fire is “undetermined.”

Investigators say the cause could not be conclusively determined, but “…the investigation pointed to possible construction work within the building as the suspected cause of the fire.” Because there is no foul play suspected, Santa Clara police will close their criminal investigation into the fire.

The site is the future home of Anantara Villas, a four-story, 56-unit condominium complex. Since the investigation into the fire is over, the developers of the complex have started cleanup and demolition work.

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As of Oct. 14, cleanup work is still going on. At the time of the fire, the complex was approximately 25 percent complete with all four stories in place. Now, just one story of the building remains.

“Any time you have that much wood in one location all on fire at the same time, the thermal dynamics related to it is just exponentially hotter than a normal campfire, where you have a couple logs or a couple woods…It’s an entire timber structure. Three stories, 56 units and all of it basically on fire,” SCFD Battalion Chief Drew Miller told The Weekly following the fire.

Approximately two-thirds of the units within the complex were already sold. A letter was sent to those owners on Aug. 13 and posted on a website created by the developer, www.anantaracares.com.

“Upon completion of the demolition and cleanup there will be testing done to the podium to determine the next step,” Legend GC Superintendent Paul Simon said in a letter to owners. “If all goes well with the testing, we plan to begin framing the building some time in November.”

The testing includes checking the concrete portions that were not destroyed in the fire to determine if they are still structurally sound.

On the morning of June 28, firefighters arrived at the construction site near the corner of Scott Boulevard and El Camino Real around 11 a.m. Firefighters immediately blocked off the area and tried to extinguish the flames.

Firefighters also worked to keep the fire from spreading to the Chick-fil-a construction site next door and the homes on Clay Street that were located directly behind the fire. The homes were briefly evacuated, but no one was hurt.

“The houses, located on Clay Street directly behind the structure fire were immediately threatened and an aggressive stand was taken by fire crews, resulting in saving all the homes and limiting the fire to the building of origin,” said the report released after the fire investigation was concluded.

On the day of the fire, one man was detained by police at the scene. He was released after investigators determined he had nothing to do with the fire.

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