Update: 6 Alarm RWC Fire Burned 3 Commercial Buildings, 1 Apartment Building

One firefighter was injured. More than a dozen people were burned out of their apartments.

Instagram photo of fire at 894 Douglas Ave. Credit: @lesliefajardo
Instagram photo of fire at 894 Douglas Ave. Credit: @lesliefajardo
Update: Friday 8:00 p.m.

[Editor's Note: The City of Redwood City issued a news release Friday evening regarding the six alarm fire. It is printed below in its entirety.]

At approximately 6 a.m. this morning, a fire was reported at FMW Machine Shop, located at 894 Douglas in Unincorporated San Mateo County. The fire was increased to a "6-alarm" fire within 45 minutes as it spread to three neighboring structures - an adjacent apartment building, and two additional commercial buildings.

Firefighters from across San Mateo County brought the blaze under control by 10:30 a.m., but firefighters are expected to be on-scene throughout the night checking for "hot spots" in walls and fully extinguishing the fire. The machine shop where officials believe the blaze started is fully burned and the other three buildings were significantly impacted. Officials will not be able to comment on cause until the full investigation is complete.

One firefighter injured his hand. There are no known fatalities at this time. The San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services issued an "air advisory" indicating that if residents smelled smoke, they should take general precautions and close windows and doors. The perimeter of the site is closed to through traffic, although crews are trying to open busy Bay Road as soon as conditions are safe.

Sixteen residents, including children, were displaced by the fire, and are currently receiving services at the Fair Oaks Community Center. The American Red Cross anticipates providing hotel shelter for the families this evening, and will then determine what the residents' housing needs are for the long holiday weekend ahead.

"For Redwood City to endure four fires since the summer of 2013, and now a fifth in unincorporated San Mateo County is hard to come to terms with," states Bob Bell, City Manager, of Redwood City. "We know the area, especially in this dry weather, is seeing a lot of fires, but our community definitely feels overburdened."

San Mateo County is a "boundary drop" county, meaning that when a fire occurs, fire departments from across the County are called to assist. Redwood City firefighters were the first to arrive on scene as Redwood City has the closest fire station to the FMW Machine Shop.

"We are receiving questions about links between fires and suspicious activity," states Fire Chief Jim Skinner. "At this point in the fire response, there is no reason to believe the fires from the past several months are linked in any way."

Based on California State Law, buildings built before 1980 are not required to have sprinklers. The building in today's blaze did not have fire sprinklers and was not required to install them.


Update: Friday 10:31 a.m.

The fire in Redwood City has been controlled. Residents are advised that it's safe to go outside and there is no health hazard.


Update: Friday 9:34 a.m.

Firefighters have nearly controlled a six-alarm fire at a machine shop in Redwood City Friday morning, but not before it spread to an adjacent apartment building and displaced more than a dozen residents, a Redwood City fire marshal said.

Firefighters responded at about 5:50 a.m. to the blaze at 894 Douglas Ave., according to a San Mateo County fire dispatcher. FMW Machine Shop is located at that address.

Firefighters had contained the fire as of about 9:15 a.m. but had not yet declared it under control, Redwood City Fire Marshal Jim Palisi said.

Before firefighters could contain the massive blaze, it spread to a nearby apartment building, causing "significant" damage, Palisi said.

About 15 people live in the building and won't be able to return Friday, he said.

Damage to the machine shop was extensive, including the collapse of the building's roof, Palisi said.

According to county officials, the response to the fire has prompted the closure of nearby streets. Broadway is closed in the area and Spring Street is also closed between Sweeney and Hurlingame avenues, county officials said. 


Update: Friday 8:44 a.m.

San Mateo County health officials are urging community members to exercise caution due to the six-alarm fire in Redwood City.

In a statement e-mailed Friday morning, health officials said, "If you smell smoke, use common sense and avoid smoke by staying indoors or limiting outdoor activity.

"All smoke is toxic and people should decrease or minimize their exposure to smoke. Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions are particularly sensitive," the statement reads.

"Other steps people can take to reduce respiratory problems include setting air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate, and if the air smells of smoke, limit your outdoor activities to avoid unnecessary exposure."


Update: Friday 8:32 a.m.

At least one school in Redwood City is closed Friday because of the six-alarm fire.

A Tweet sent out at 8:20 a.m. from @SummitPS says, "Due to the fire in the area, Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City, CA will be closed today, Friday, January 17th."


KCBS Radio reports the fire has spread to 892 Douglas Ave., and has learned that some residences nearby have been evacuated.

Update: Friday 7:30 a.m. 

A fire at a machine shop in Redwood City Friday morning has been upgraded to six alarms, a San Mateo County fire dispatcher said.
Firefighters responded at about 5:50 a.m. to the blaze at 894 Douglas Ave.
FMW Machine Shop is located at that address.
The fire was still burning as of 7:15 a.m., the fire dispatcher said.
According to county officials, the response to the fire has prompted the closure of nearby streets.
Broadway is closed in the area and Spring Street is also closed between Sweeney and Hurlingame avenues, county officials said.


Update: Friday 7:05 a.m.

Crews continue to battle a blaze that has escalated to four alarms at a commercial building in Redwood City Friday morning, according to fire officials.
Firefighters responded to a blaze at 894 Douglas Ave. at about 5:50 a.m., officials said.
FMW Machine Shop is located at that address.
Further details were not immediately available.


Original story: Friday 6:45 a.m.

Fire crews Friday morning are battling a three-alarm blaze in Redwood City this morning, according to a dispatcher.
Crews responded to the blaze on Douglas Avenue around 5:50 a.m.
Further details were not immediately available.

Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Patch will update this story as more information becomes available.
Pam Kitchens January 17, 2014 at 10:05 AM
Firedispatch.com shows this fire as 6 alarm now.
Ed Bierman January 17, 2014 at 11:00 AM
What's up Redwood City -- maybe we should be focused on some fire prevention programs?


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