Evacuations, what to know – NBC Bay Area

A massive fire at a building under construction in Redwood City on Monday prompted a forced evacuation.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said firefighters were able to contain the fire to the original structure more than five hours after the fire started. Although “under control”, the area remains under a 24-hour fire watch.

No injuries were reported in the fire, which also prompted an air quality advisory — winds expected to push smoke across the peninsula and into the San Jose area.



Aerial footage shows what remains of a building under construction in Redwood City after it caught fire.

Aerial coverage from NBC Bay Area’s SkyRanger on Monday afternoon showed the construction site engulfed in flames as flames tore through the building.

Firefighters said the fire was first reported at 10:15 a.m. in the 2700 block of Middlefield Road and received an eight-alarm response. According to Menlo Park Conservation District Chief Mark Lorenson, the building was not fully constructed, making it difficult to fight.

“Anytime you have a building under construction, there’s no fire systems, no sprinklers, no firewall and just no wood, so it burns as fast as a fireplace,” Lorenson said.

Evacuations were ordered between Pacific Avenue and Calvin Avenue, and later included people living on Dumbarton Avenue.



Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Mark Lorenzen describes what firefighters faced when an eight-alarm fire broke out at a building under construction in Redwood City.

About 200 people were evacuated, and more than 100 construction workers in the building evacuated themselves, Lorenzen said.

Although many residents were evicted, some refused and said they still had all their homes.

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“They told us to evacuate, they said they were going to move the ‘safe zone’ one more block that way … but I told them ‘I’m not leaving because this is my house,'” Reyes Martinez said. “Insurance wasn’t going to pay for the repairs, so my neighbor and I decided to stay and fight.”

Salvador Cuevas echoed Martinez’s sentiments.

“I want to defend my place, that’s my whole thing,” Cuevas said. “I know it feels bad, but if the worst comes to worst we have to run. I want to fight the fire.”

Some evacuees are finally being allowed to return to their homes, officials said Monday afternoon.



About 200 people were evacuated, and more than 100 construction workers in the building were themselves evacuated. While most were evicted, some chose to keep their Redwood City homes.

Several evacuation centers were set up for the victims:

The North Fair Oaks Library, Fair Oaks Community Center and Veterans Memorial Senior Center will offer services at various times. The North Fair Oaks Library is open until 8 p.m. and the Fair Oaks Community Center is open until 5 p.m.



Scott McGrew describes how quickly flames spread through a building under construction in Redwood City.

A spokeswoman for the Redwood City School District said classes at Garfield Community School on Middlefield Road were dismissed for the day. Parents are being advised to pick up their children, officials said.

“Due to the smoke from the fire on Middlefield Road, we are evacuating the school immediately for the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We want to assure you that everyone at school is safe and sound,” school officials said.

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According to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, the fire started on the fifth floor of the building. Lorenzen winds quickly spread flames and lava into the building.



San Mateo County Supervisor David Caneba said Monday’s massive fire that destroyed affordable housing under construction was “tragic” and a “setback” for the community.

San Mateo County Supervisor David Caneba said the 179-unit building helped spur growth in the area. Once completed, the building would have served as an affordable housing structure, Canepa said.

Construction on the $155 million luxury housing project was expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2025.

Caltrain service was also suspended in Redwood City while crews battled the fire, officials said.

Officials said the cause of the fire is unknown and an investigation is underway.



Redwood City resident Christine Tran describes how she was evacuated after a fire in Redwood City engulfed a building under construction.



Firefighters battle a fire at a building under construction in Redwood City on Monday.

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