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.
Wow. thought for those business owners
I have never heard so many sirens before. Sorry for those who lost their building.
How scary. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Very sad for the business owners as well as the employees.
Pretty crazy. Friends who live out there said it looked like a volcano erupting.
So glad no one was hurt. Must have been like the Oakland Hills fire in those early moments.
Agree with Mister Astenah’s comment: firefighters went to work quickly and professionally. Unfortunatgely the building was perfect for a bad fire. Glad no one hurt. Hazve a list of businesses burned out???
Thanks for the alert. I think our neighbors just signed up. Good reporting last night.
Lot of excitment for Lafayette!
@Aaron – Not the kind it wants, but definitely exciting!
Do they know what caused it?
@A – Not yet. Working on it…
Good pics. Must have been terrifying.
Went to that restaurant many times. Sad.
@Jim – So did we, Jim. Agreed.
Hope they get back on their feet soon.
Thinking good thoughts for those affected.
No cause given?
Sorry to hear about the possibly irretrievable loss of records at the accountant’s office. Did any of the Pepsodent’s tax returns survive the fire?
Sorrier to hear about La Finestra’s demise. Hope the owners and staff come out ok.
Remember, this is the restaurant & building where the huge tree fell this past winter and crushed four or five cars. Thank goodness no one was hurt then, or now.
@GregT – Remember it well!
Any update on cause?
@Kate – Only that it appears accidental. Investigators still working on the cause.
Definitely in fire season
I read that they think it started on the patio, probably a cigarette.
That was an expensive cigarette break.
The little eye counter at the top of the page says 10000 — is that the number of people who opened this story and read it?
@Douglas – Hi. Yes, that’s a counter for the number of “opens” on that story, plus another 20,000 or so registered via our social media interfaces.