A large structure fire at a four-story condominium construction site in Santa Clara sent huge plumes of black smoke and flames into the sky Friday morning alarming people.
According to fire officials, one worker was injured trying to escape the fire, which started around 11 a.m. The injury was not due to the smoke or fire, according to Santa Clara City Fire Chief Brian Kelly. The worker was taken to a nearby hospital after suffering a leg injury while jumping from scaffolding.
The City of Santa Clara fire marshall has launched an investigation into the origin of the fire and a person of interest was been detained but later released, police said.
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Photos posted on Twitter immediately after the fire started identified the location as a building under construction at the corner of El Camino Real and Scott Boulevard. The smoke could be seen from as far away as Coyote Creek Drive.
Public Safety officials also announced an evacuation order for people living on Pierce and Clay streets. Residents are expected to reoccupy their homes later Friday evening. Fire officials said El Camino Real was closed between Scott Boulevard and Lincoln Street at 11:20 a.m.
Video from NBC Bay Area's SkyRanger showed Santa Clara fire crews and fire engines spraying large jets of water to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to nearby buildings. Nobody was present inside the building, which was in the framing stages of construction. officials said. About 35 firefighters from different agencies helped to get the fire under control and continue ro aggressively extinguish hotspots.
According to plans posted online, the 1.51 acre construction site was a 58-unit residential condo project at 1890 El Camino Real named Anantara Villas which was expected to be ready for occupancy by this year.
“My heart just fell into my stomach,” said Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor. “That project was a wonderful project that would provide much-needed housing and even affordable housing for Santa Clara … to see it go up in smoke like that is just really heartbreaking.”
The online description of the condo comples describes it as a "visionary community nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley" which is located near Santa Clara University and tech business centers. The property is minutes away from San Jose International Airport. Passengers reported seeing plumes of smoke from inside the airport.
A number of businesses and homes are located close to the construction site, including a Popeyes.
In a statement to NBC Bay Area, the builder said:
"Our first priority is everyone’s safety. We verified with our on-site staff that everyone is safe. This was corroborated with local news sources."
We would like to thank everyone for their prompt action to ensure the safety of our staff, our neighbors, and the local community in Santa Clara. From those who reported the fire, to the wonderful and courageous team members of the Fire Departments and other first responders, and everyone sending their best wishes.
We will work with local authorities and related companies to conduct a thorough review of what happened and how to effectively prevent any such instances from happening in the future."
Twitter user Brian, who took photo and video of the site, said the building was almost completely engulfed in fire before crews arrived.