About 50 firefighters and officers battled a fast-moving 3-alarm structure fire at Lafayette Circle and Whitten Lane Thursday morning, an office cluster housing the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, La Finestra restaurant as well as nine other local businesses.
Firefighters are declaring the building at 100 Lafayette Circle a total loss. Business owners and neighbors drifted by the scene Thursday, shaking their heads at the extent of the damage and at the loss of so many established local businesses.
No injuries were reported. Investigators said a cigarette discarded on the patio area of La Finestra was the likely cause of the blaze, which caused an estimated $1.1 million in damage.
Contra Costa County Fire District firefighters were called to the area, a cluster of wood-shingled, two-story office buildings, shortly before midnight Wednesday. The first firefighters on the scene were met with heavy smoke and flame and rushed to evacuate people who hastily ran from the area.
NEWS24/680 reader Kaveh Asteneh of Lafayette described the initial scene as one of panic: “…when I first arrived (as first engine pulled on scene) there were people literally running away from the area… people running to their cars to move them from being melted… it was like a war scene… very visceral… good to see how well LFD (ConFire) worked to get everyone to safety and then set up to tackle the fire…”
Subsequent fire personnel assumed defensive fire positions around the area’s many restaurants, including Chow and American Kitchen. Firefighters and NEWS24-680 readers at the scene reported drifting embers falling on the surrounding neighborhood, some thudding into them some distance away from the scene of the blaze.
We’ll have more on this breaking news story as more information becomes available.