Local News

Tuesday, Jun 26 2012 08:51 AM

Loss in furniture store fire pegged at $3 million

  1. 1 of 12

    By Ben Durham

    The Home Decor showroom and warehouse facility erupted in flames at Union Avenue and Monterey Street shortly before 5 a.m.

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  2. 2 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Bakersfield firefighters mop up a structure fire at The Home Decor showroom and warehouse facility that erupted in flames at Union Avenue and Monterey Street about 5 a.m. Tuesday.

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  3. 3 of 12

    By Bruce St. John

    The Home Decor showroom and warehouse facility erupted in flames at Union Avenue and Monterey Street shortly before 5 a.m. At sunrise a photograph shows the smoke from the furniture store. The image was taken from a parking structure just north of The Bakersfield Californian's office downtown.

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  4. 4 of 12

    By Ben Durham

    The Home Decor showroom and warehouse facility erupted in flames at Union Avenue and Monterey Street shortly before 5 a.m.

    click to expand click to collapse
  5. 5 of 12

    By Ben Durham

    The Home Decor showroom and warehouse facility erupted in flames at Union Avenue and Monterey Street shortly before 5 a.m.

    click to expand click to collapse
  6. 6 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A Bakersfield City Firefighter walks through the tangled metal and other debris inside the Home Decor Furniture building on Union Avenue near Monterey Street Tuesday morning. An early morning fire at the business destroyed the building and all the contents of the estimated 45,000 square foot building.

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  7. 7 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Peter Phan arrives at his business on Union Avenue, Home Decor Furniture, to find it totally destroyed by an early morning fire Tuesday.

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  8. 8 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Ramiro Rodriguez, an employee at Home Decor Furniture on Union Avenue, tries to call his boss to let him know of an early morning fire Tuesday that destroyed the building and all of the contents where the furniture business was located. Rodriguez was the first of several employees to arrive at the scene. He was scheduled to work later in the day.

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  9. 9 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Home Decor Furniture employees look at the damage an early morning fire caused to their place of employment.

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  10. 10 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Ramiro Rodriguez was scheduled to work Tuesday but an early morning fire at the Home Decor Furniture business where he worked destroyed the build and its contents.

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  11. 11 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A Bakersfield City Firefighter does mop-up work on an early morning fire that destroyed the Home Decor Furniture business on Union Avenue Tuesday.

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  12. 12 of 12
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By REBECCA KHEEL, Californian staff writer rkheel@bakersfield.com

A fire ripped through a furniture store Tuesday morning and caused an estimated $3 million in damage to the building and its contents.

Of the damage caused by the fire, Bakersfield Fire Department Battalion Chief Ross Kelly said, “It appears to be a total loss.”

Bakersfield Fire Department got the call at 4:57 a.m. that a fire had broken out at Home Decor Furniture, 2501 Union Ave.

The 40,000-square-feet property included the showroom in front, plus two inventory areas that served both that location and a second store at 900 Chester Ave.

Firefighters arrived at the scene to find a heavy, rapidly spreading fire in multiple locations in the building, Kelly said.

Crews first fought the fire from inside the building. To access the inside, they had to force doors open, cut through gates and use a circular saw to open roll-up doors, Kelly said.

But the fire spread so rapidly, the firefighters had to be removed from the building, Kelly said. They continued spraying the fire from atop their trucks’ ladders. The blaze was under control by 6:30 a.m.

The three-alarm fire required seven engines, four ladders, seven command officers and 45 firefighters.

No injuries were reported.

The eastbound Union Avenue exit of Highway 178 had to be closed for firefighters to access their supply line. The fire also knocked out multiple traffic lights in the surrounding area. Bakersfield police were called in to help control traffic.

The owner of Home Decor Furniture, Peter Phan, was asleep when he got a call from the alarm company about the fire. His first thought, he said, was that he had no idea what to do.

“I never imagined a big fire like this could happen because it’s a metal building. I don’t know how it could burn down a whole big store,” Phan said.

One of the store’s 12 employees, salesman Ramiro Rodriguez, echoed Phan’s shock. He and six other employees were at the scene Tuesday morning watching firefighters work on the smoldering building.

Rodriguez had seen the fire on television before coming to work. But he still wanted to come in, he said, to check that the fire was in fact at his workplace.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I was just here yesterday.”

Home Decor Furniture leases the space from building owner Ted Pierce. Pierce could not be reached by phone at his office or home Tuesday.

Investigators continue to look into the cause of the fire. There is a possibility that the furniture contained flammable materials or liquids, causing the fire to spread, Kelly said.

It could take two days to figure out the cause, Kelly said, because “we’re going to need to dig through all the debris and rubble.”

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