Fire officials will continue to monitor site of massive Santa Clara blaze

SANTA CLARA — Firefighters on Saturday are continuing to monitor the site of a four-alarm fire Friday that ripped through a 56-unit luxury condominium complex under construction in Santa Clara.

There was no update Saturday morning as to the cause of the conflagration, which threw thick plumes of smoke into the sky that could be seen for miles and sent construction workers running for their lives. At least one “person of interest” was detained near the scene at about 12:30 p.m. Friday and later released without any charges, according to Santa Clara police Capt. Wahid Kazem.

The blaze ignited at the Anantara Villas, 1850 El Camino Real, just after 11 a.m. Friday, but firefighters were able to douse the flames by 1:30 p.m. One worker injured his leg when jumping from scaffolding to escape the roaring flames. He was expected to recover.

A painstaking investigation is now underway, said Battalion Chief Drew Miller with the Santa Clara Fire Department. That will involve sifting through surveillance video of the scene, interviewing workers and witnesses, collecting bystanders’ photographs and footage of the blaze — a process with an “indeterminate” time frame, he said.

“There’s a lot of information to be gathered,” Miller said. “Depending on what facts are uncovered, that could change or lengthen the investigation.”

The Santa Clara Fire Department, along with the Santa Clara police and the Santa Clara County Fire Investigation Task Force, are all investigating the blaze, he said.

In the meantime, Miller said an engine crew will remain on scene to douse any hot spots and monitor the building, which is at risk of collapsing in various places. It’s too unstable for firefighters to enter, he said, so they will have to disassemble the charred scaffolding before they can ensure the debris inside isn’t still smoldering and continue the investigation.

“While the investigation is ongoing, we will maintain control of the scene,” Miller said.

Shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, authorities reopened the westbound lanes of El Camino Real between Lincoln Street and Scott Boulevard, which were completely closed due to the fire. The eastbound lanes remain closed but authorities estimated they would open later Saturday evening.

Anyone with video footage, photographs or information about the fire is encouraged to call the Santa Clara Fire Department at (408) 615-4900 or email fire@santaclaraca.gov.