A five-alarm fire in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Sunday heavily damaged a former television news station where homeless people occasionally stay, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
More than 100 firefighters battled the blaze, while Santa Clara and Sunnyvale sent ladder trucks to help.
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The building, formerly the studio of local station KNTV, has been empty since 1994, when the television station moved to a new location. Local firefighters were familiar with the structure because it is across from the department's training building. In 2012, the KNTV building was also used for fire training.
As many as 30 homeless people occasionally sought shelter in the vacant structure before the fire.
San Jose fire Capt. Reggie Williams said that firefighters attempted to get inside the building to search for people but flames and smoke prevented them from doing so. The walls and roof caved in as flames engulfed the building.
"This is a big fire for us," Williams told the San Jose Mercury News. "We can't tell you whether or not there are still people in there."
The San Jose Police had been trying to clear transients from the old television station in recent weeks, issuing citations and orders against people staying there.
"We're working hand in hand with all the leads and in conjunction with arson investigators," San Jose Police Lt. Eddie Pedreira told KTVU-TV. "
We're putting all the pieces together, talking to witnesses, to see how it fits with all the information that we have."
Jacob Rangel, who lives near the former television station, described what he saw.
"I just saw the whole place flaming up like there's no way they could stop it," Rangel told KNTV.
"It's too late. There was one part where there was this pressure that came out of the building, and it just turned into this little tornado and it was rushing toward everyone that was standing on the block."
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