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South Bay Crews Douse Hot Spots at Burned-Out Campbell Office Building; Arson Suspected

CAMPBELL (KPIX) -- With help from a construction crew and a little bit from the clouds, Santa Clara County firefighters Saturday afternoon were in the final stages of putting out a fire that engulfed a vacant 72,000-square-foot office building in Campbell.

"They're pulling down the unsecured walls of the building so we can get in there and try to get further into the building with our hose lines to finally complete extinguishment of this fire," said Jason Falarski, deputy chief with the Santa Clara County Fire Department.

The fire broke out around 10 a.m. Friday on Knowles Drive near Dell Avenue. The rubble was still smoldering and hot spots were still burning on Saturday.

"The fire became contained last night. We continued working throughout the night and into today," Falarski said.

Nobody was hurt in the fire, according to investigators.

People who live around the area saw their neighborhood fill up with smoke on Friday and were fascinated by the process on Saturday.

"I was working at that one building over there this morning and when I rolled through at 6 a.m., it was still smoldering and little pieces were on fire," said Melvin Tadlock Jr.

Many people took photos and videos.

"It's unbelievable -- the amount of damage and destruction," said Karl Hawkins.

Strangers shared their bewilderment.

"Oh my. Just horrible damage. It's just so surprising that it went down," said Bill Tanner. "It's a pretty major thing, pretty serious damage."

"Just due to the pollutants that come from the carcinogens from the burnt building, we have worked with our HazMat team in monitoring the creeks and streams and have made contact with all of the agencies that are involved with any type of runoff from this situation," Falarski said. "We've worked with Fish and Game for the water runoff into the creeks and, so far, everything has been OK."

Naturally, everyone is curious as to what started the fire. Authorities are investigating the fire as arson. Some people had theories.

"What started it? Insurance?" said Tadlock Jr.

Falarski says it's too early to know exactly how it started. However, he says they do know the fire likely started in the back of the building and grew rapidly.

"We're going to bring in the arson task force and try to see if there are any accelerants or anything else used," he said. "When our first initial crews made access into the building, we found a maze of walls and buildings. The fire rapidly grew and we decided to pull our crews out due to the fact that it's a vacant building and went to a defensive operation."

Firefighters will likely be at the scene for a few days, according to the deputy chief.

"Just due to the magnitude and the size of the structure, it's going to take a while until we can get complete extinguishment," he said. "Then we'll start the investigation process and turn it over to the property management."

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