Santa Rosa firefighters extinguish blaze at abandoned auto shop

Fire inside an empty Santa Rosa building was put out within 20 minutes Saturday. Officials say homeless residents may have been to blame.|

Santa Rosa firefighters battled flames that did extensive damage Saturday night to an abandoned former auto shop off Roseland Avenue, just south of Highway 12.

The blaze, reported at 8:10 p.m., was contained to the large two-story metal building, which had been boarded up to keep out transients, Santa Rosa Deputy Fire Chief Bill Shubin said.

No people were inside when firefighters arrived and no injuries were reported, Shubin said. The extensive flames, however, made for a visible sight, and emergency dispatch traffic indicated multiple callers reporting the blaze as it broke out.

“We had heavy fire coming out of both the first floor and the second floor,” Shubin said.

Firefighters cut through plywood boards to access the building, which Shubin said was known to be abandoned at the time of the call. A sign at the location gave the name of the former business as West Transmission.

The fire, which was extinguished in about 20 minutes, started inside the northwest side of the building on the first floor, Shubin said. While the cause was not immediately known, fire officials suspect the flames were sparked by homeless residents in the area. The Joe Rodota Trail sits just to the south of the building.

“There were reports that they had been coming in and out of the building over the past couple of weeks,” Shubin said.

Four engines and one ladder truck, along with two supervisors responded to the scene. Shubin said damage to the structure made it a total loss.

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