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Saturday, November 22, 2008


CALIFORNIA FIRE NEWS: " A late-night fire tore through the crematorium Thursday night at Pajaro Valley Memorial Park on Hecker Pass.

The 11:42 p.m. two-alarm fire leveled the more than 1,000-square-foot building that was attached to the rear of the historic 1932 Pajaro Valley Mausoleum.

Battalion Chief Greg Estrada of Pajaro Valley Fire said that, when firefighters arrived at the scene, they were met with 30- to 40-foot flames rising up into the night sky above the mausoleum. Estrada said he quickly learned that the fire was actually coming from the back of the building, where the crematorium stood. He said firefighters went into a defensive attack because the building was engulfed in flames.

In fact, at one point, Estrada said, the crematorium building caved in on itself. The fire was not fully contained until 3:30 a.m. Friday. Firefighters had to use three rotating water tenders to haul in a lot of the water they needed.

No injuries were reported. Estrada said the cause of the fire is still under investigation and that foul play is not suspected.

Estrada added that firefighters took extra care to ensure that any possible trace of human remains at the crematorium was not disturbed. He said a worker at the facility informed him early on that no human remains were anywhere near the burn area and that the crematorium had long been switched off.

Firefighters and investigators were on the scene for a total of 12 hours.

By Friday afternoon, a Santa Cruz County building inspector had already cleared the mausoleum as being sound, without any sign of structural damage. Pat Carroll of Pajaro Valley Memorial Park said that, though the interior of the mausoleum sustained minor smoke damage, the integrity of all the crypts was intact and that cleanup operations were well under way Friday.

“It will probably take us about a week to get the building back in tidy order,” Carroll said. “We’re thankful the firefighters saved the mausoleum from damage.”

Estrada said firefighters used squeegees to clear away water and soot from the mausoleum.

Estrada said a caretaker on the property was awoken by a barking dog about 11:40 p.m. That’s when the caretaker spotted the flames and called for help.

Twenty-five firefighters from the Pajaro Valley, Cal Fire at Corralitos, Watsonville, Aptos/La Selva, Central, South Santa Clara County and North Monterey County Fire departments responded to the incident. Six engines, three water tenders and three chief officers were also at the scene.

Estrada said that the mausoleum contains 300-400 crypts and urns, but none of them were damaged.

“Because we wanted to maintain the integrity of the mausoleum, and not chase the flames into that building, we fought the fire from the rear and forced it away from the main structure,” Estrada said. “It was a coordinated effort that also involved slowly opening the mausoleum and then pushing the fire out away from the main building. Our efforts paid off.

“I’m really happy with the overall effort by all these agencies,” Estrada said. “When you bring all these people in from three different counties, it can get complex. But we were all working with the same goal, and it went smoothly.”

Source: - Link
*Photo by Tarmo Hannula*
Tags: Water tenders, Hecker Pass, Pajaro Valley Fire department, CAL FIRE, Corralitos Fire department, Watsonville Fire department, Aptos/La Selva Fire department, Central Fire department, South Santa Clara County Fire department, North Monterey County Fire department

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