ESCONDIDO — A four-alarm fire at a vacant building at 559 N. Hale Ave., which used to house Talone’s Meat Market erupted at 8:52 a.m. on Thursday, according to city officials.
Upon arriving on the scene, the Escondido Fire Department found the blaze had broken through the roof. As of 12:30 p.m. the fire scene was still active, however, fire crews appeared to have the blaze under control.
Several fire agencies, including Encinitas, Carlsbad and others from around the county responded to the blaze. Five ladder companies were on scene and at the height of the blaze, according to a city official, at least 96 firefighters battled the fire (see footage).
According to Escondido Fire Department Chief Russ Knowles at least one fire crew will remain on scene overnight to monitor the building, which has totally collapsed.
At this time Knowles wasn’t speaking on a cause to the blaze, but said the building had no electricity running to it.
He said that four transients were in the building, but those four appeared to have gotten out, however, questions over whether any others were inside during the fire are still unknown.
Fire officials will conduct a search on Friday to confirm no other persons were in the building, according to an update from the city. “Until the structural integrity of the building is assured and the remaining hot spots are extinguished, no one will be permitted to enter the building,” the news release read.
Knowles said firefighters fought the blaze as a “defensive fire,” dousing the building from the outside because temperatures inside the building made it too risky to send firefighters inside.
A short section of Hale Avenue will remain closed between the railroad tracks and Tulip Street as the mop up continues.
It was the second biggest blaze in Escondido that Knowles could recall. The first being when an apartment complex caught fire in 2007, he said.
Sprinter operations have since resumed and SDG&E restored electricity to businesses in the nearby area.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.