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Lake Chabot Public Market in Castro Valley gutted after overnight fire

Fire guts Lake Chabot Public Market building in Castro Valley
Fire guts Lake Chabot Public Market building in Castro Valley 00:49

A massive fire gutted the Lake Chabot Public Market building in Castro Valley early Thursday morning.

The building on Lake Chabot Road and Quail Avenue, which houses a meat market, coffee shops and several restaurants in a food court-style facility, had fire shooting out of the roof during the incident that began at about 2:30 a.m.

The fire reached three alarms before firefighters were able to knock it down. The fire caused the roof of the facility to collapse, the Alameda County Fire Department said.

Hans Cho, who owns Lake Chabot Public Market with his family, said next year would've been the public market's 10-year anniversary.

"I received a call this morning at 5 a.m. from my neighbor, asking if I had heard the news. I said, 'What news?' And he said, 'Your market's on fire,'" Cho told CBS News Bay Area.

"From Day One, we always wanted to be rooted in the community and giving back. So when I think about that, it makes it much harder to swallow (and) to process. Obviously, just a lot of thoughts going through my mind in terms of next steps,"Cho went on to say.

Suki Lin, the owner of Poke Go, said she'd been in the Lake Chabot Public Market for nine months. After a slow start to the year, she was looking forward to a potential increase of business in the coming days.

"Today would've been good. Today's sunny and hot. The market would've been busy. But no. It's a busy day, but not busy because we're working inside of here," Lin said. "I'm so upset. I don't know what to do. It's my business."

Lin, who has another Poke Go location in Lafayette, said she moved into the public market nine months ago because the location would allow her to be closer with her family. She lives a three-minute drive away.

"A lot of my customers have been asking me if I sold Dole Whip," she said. "So last night, I got a sign, printed it, and I put 'Dole Whip is back.' I was going to bring it this morning and put the sign out... I'm so sorry for Hans, their family. I'm so sorry for all the vendors. I see everybody in the morning. I talk to everybody. Everybody is so upset, so sad."

The destruction is hitting the hearts of many in the Castro Valley community, including the first responders who put the fire out.

"We grew up with the family here in Castro Valley, so we're very close friends," Justin Hoglund, a battalion chief with the Alameda County Fire Department, said. "Mama Cho's. All the firefighters eat here. All the police officers eat here. It's a pillar of the community, so it's really sad."

Carmel Ledyard, who lives near the public market, said she was hopeful the Cho's would be able to rebuild or return in some way.

"It's a personal loss to all of us. It really is," she said. "Just very sad for the owners, the people, (and) all of us. We really feel it."

No other buildings in the area were at risk, the Fire Department said.

There was no immediate word on what caused the fire. No injuries were reported. 

Crews from the city of Alameda Fire Department and the Hayward Fire Department also battled the fire, which was believed to have started in the kitchen area of one of the food vendors in the building. 

Alameda County Fire said over 50 firefighters responded to the blaze. The department initially reported that Chabot Elementary School officials had children and staff shelter in place until all the hot spots were out. Later Thursday morning, school officials decided to cancel classes because of road closures in the area.

Crews will rotate throughout the day and night to ensure all the hotspots are out.

Kevin Ko contributed to this report.

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