As feds aid in San Jose Home Depot fire investigation, industry experts share insight into process

Pat J. Fraley


SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — In an effort to get a greater plan about what fire investigators are executing to find the bring about of Saturday’s large 5-alarm hearth that burned down a San Jose Dwelling Depot, ABC7 News spoke with fireplace marketplace experts.

As ATF investigators scoured the site, fire field gurus mentioned bringing in federal agents ultimately indicates added means, more practical experience and further tools to aid uncover a bring about.

“I feel it’s just a very good, wise go to call in ATF, FBI, whoever you want when you have a hearth this substantial,” Retired Menlo Park Hearth District Chief Harold Schapelhouman advised ABC7 Information.

With many years devoted to the hearth services, Schapelhouman explained the hearth as aggressive and strange for a major box store.

Connected: Feds on the ground at SJ Property Depot to help in hearth investigation

“Aggressive, indignant. I signify, there’s a great deal of words and phrases to sort of describe when you view that column coming out of there, with darkish black smoke. But you know, you have a facility that has a whole lot of vertical storage and racks, and a large amount of combustible products and solutions, correct? All the things from propane cylinders, to roofing products to, you know, adhesives, to lumber,” he included.

He anticipates they will have to stabilize walls, distinct paths and a lot more- preparation needed for the prolonged investigation in advance.

Video clip: Animals at neighboring small business rushed to basic safety all through SJ Property Depot hearth

“From time to time it is really a bucket at a time that you’re getting out of a setting up like this- of soot and ash and particles- to check out and dig down to the place you imagine the stage of origin was, and establish bring about,” he ongoing. “So you know… How extended does all that get? As prolonged as it requires.”

“They’re going to be pretty considerably inundated, performing 12 several hours,” Stan Fernandez explained. “Eight to 12 hour shifts.”

Fernandez is an adjunct professor for City College of San Francisco’s Fireplace Technologies Application.

Echoing Schapelhouman’s assistance for the support of ATF agents, Fernandez shared, “They recognize hearth habits, proof collection, forensics, the magnitude of distinct kinds of fires.”

“Not only fire, but explosions,” he extra. “They arrive from all unique denominations of specialty- electrical, structural. They do scene procedures, interviews and all that.”

When requested about the Residence Depot site itself, Fernandez instructed ABC7 News the major challenge is likely to be setting up protection with the roof absent.

Video clip: Significant hearth tears as a result of Property Depot in SJ

Inside of the keep, he explained what would be considered in the investigation, “There’s the large hearth load- any box store will have a heavy hearth load. You’re looking at the distribution of product or service, the aisle house, the place it was in relative to where by the initial start out of the hearth, how it did- how it moved. There items that take into thought of air flow, the air flow issue.”

Fernandez explained the Household Depot hearth investigation is confident to span much over and above the physical fire scene.

“They have to gather a whole lot of information,” he stated. “When I say data, I necessarily mean it comes from a myriad of areas. It arrives from the people today from interviews, eyewitnesses, cameras inside of the store, exterior the shop, passersby… they have to job interview all those folks.”

Associated: Crews carry on to place out hot spots at San Jose House Depot immediately after substantial hearth destroys building

The ATF and San Jose Fire have questioned that men and women who were at the Residence Depot when the hearth started off, arrive forward and give their account.

Witnesses who spoke with ABC7 News claimed there was no instant hearth alarm and no indicator of energetic sprinklers. The hearth department said that is all less than investigation.

“In this circumstance, if in point accurate, not acquiring any suppression inside the sprinkler systems… It truly is like, what transpired? Was it overwhelmed? Was it not ample? Or was it shut off? I assume all those are the matters that the hearth division- now with ATF assistance- are gonna occur out and current at some issue,” Schapelhouman shared.

He additional, “You can overwhelm sprinkler devices- and we’ve viewed that right before in significant warehouse amenities- indicating that the fireplace gets so huge, the ability of the sprinkler system is not there to be ready to place it out. So that’s a design issue, that is a flamable load issue, which is a code difficulty. And those people are all authentic variables.”

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When that time will come, he claimed what is in the end determined could lead to popular advancements.

“It is really not as if which is the only Household Depot in the place, proper?” he included. “Nobody’s wanting to duplicate this.”

Again to the addition of ATF brokers in the fireplace investigation, Schapelhouman shared, “I consider it is really a masterful transfer, whoever did it. They received beat up numerous a long time in the past on the Santana Row fire for not requesting ATF. So, I really don’t know if that was a variable in this situation, I hope that it wasn’t. I consider it can be just a fantastic smart transfer.”

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