Close call: Property manager, fire officials fortunate after iconic Fresno building fire

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FRESNO, California. (KGPE) – On Sunday, one of Fresno’s iconic buildings was the center of a two-alarm fire. 

Around 4:00 p.m, the Fresno Fire Department says a fire engine responded to the Pacific Southwest Building near Fulton and Mariposa after receiving a report that a sprinkler system was going off on the 14th floor.

When firefighters made it to the 14th floor, they found a fire that had been kept under control by that sprinkler system and were able to put it out. 

The Pacific Southwest Building’s property manager says this is one of the largest fire incidents the building has had in years. 

The property manager and fire officials say a much more serious fire was avoided thanks to the right precautions. 

Charles Atikian has been the building’s property manager for the last decade. He says the 14th floor is a mostly vacant space right now. He credits the building’s fire suppression system in the outcome of Sunday’s fire. 

“For this building, it is very crucial especially for the height and the size,” Atikian said. “So our systems did their job properly.”

Justin Beal, a fire prevention engineer with the Fresno Fire Department, says having the right systems in place can mean the difference in life or death. 

“We know that in more than 90 percent of the cases, three sprinkler heads or less will control or extinguish a fire,” Beal said.

Beal is an expert on most buildings’ fire safety plans in Fresno. He says the Pacific Southwest Building has been well prepared for fires for decades. 

“In the 1960s, the City of Fresno embarked on a pretty large redevelopment plan,” Beal said. “And during that, this building was actually required to be retrofitted  with fire sprinklers from the basement all the way up to the top floor.” 

These fire precautions are also an important part of any new tenants who open businesses in the building. Quail State is a newer cocktail bar on the building’s second floor. The bar sustained no damage in the fire. 

“Fire safety in a historic building is of the utmost importance,” said the bar’s owner Josh Isla-Wolf. “So, before we could even get a permit to operate we had to make sure that there are fire suppression systems in place: firewalls, smoke dampers.

Some tenants have been temporarily displaced due to water damage below the 14th floor, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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July 23 2021 05:30 pm

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