Quick work by several Boulder Creek business owners prevented what could have been a large fire in some century-old buildings along Highway 9 in downtown Boulder Creek.
The fire was reported at the Coldwell Banker real estate office at 6:50 a.m. Friday, March 22.
The office at 13117 Highway 9, next to the Oddfellow’s Hall, is across the state route from Boulder Creek Hardware, where owner Doug Conrad saw local businessman Jim Walters saw smoke rising from the side of the building.
Walters and Conrad stretched a garden hose across Highway 9, and the two battled the blaze with it and a fire extinguisher.
Conrad, who formerly volunteered for the Felton and Boulder Creek fire teams, knew to ventilate the building to prevent major smoke damage. He and Walters, along with local businessman Mark Kinder, fought the fire until firefighters arrived from the nearby Boulder Creek Fire Station.
According to Boulder Creek Fire Chief Kevin McClish, some cigarettes had ignited a fire underneath a building.
“Jim Walters, he was amazing,” Conrad said. “He was right there in the smoke.”
The fire was put out by 7:20 a.m., McClish said, but could have been much worse.
“It happened at a very fortunate time of day,” McClish said. “If this happened at three in the morning, we would have lost quite a few buildings just due to the age and type of the building.”
The wooden building was likely built in the early 1900s.
“When I came in the morning of the fire, I thought it was electrical,” said Jim Lee, who has owned the Coldwell Banker office since 1976.
“But the fire chief said there was no way (it was electrical),” Lee said jokingly. “When this building was built, electricity hadn’t been discovered.”
Lee said Coldwell Banker continued with business as usual after partitioning off the wall that burned. The business’ phone lines are still working.
However, Lee said, the damage could result in repairs and possible upgrades to the building that cost $25,000.
“It was a good save,” Lee said, “and I certainly do appreciate it. It could have been so bad.”
Conrad said it was lucky that people were around to quell the blaze, but shrugged off the credit.
“I think anybody would have done the same thing,” he said.
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