Fire destroys historic San José IBM complex

On Saturday, March 8, 2008 at approximately 1:30 AM, firefighters at San José Fire Station 35 were alerted to a fire at the vacant IBM property located at 5600 Cottle Road in South San Jose.

Leaving the barn, Captain Trent Engler (E35C) and his crew came face-to-face with a massive column of smoke rising above the 69,000 square foot structure that once housed hundreds of high tech workers.

Engler immediately requested a second-alarm to bolster the full-first alarm that had already been struck. A third-alarm was then struck some 15 minutes later due to access difficulties and a lack of available water. Crews were forced to extend extremely long hose lays to supply the multiple hand lines, master streams, and portable monitors that would be placed into service. Over 80 firefighters battled the blaze for several hours before the majority of the flames were doused.

The complex itself was the subject of some dispute after historical preservationists suggested the buildings be saved due to their association with early advances in information storage technology and the unique architectural design by John Bolles. IBM had been attempting to sell the property since it closed the facility in 1996.

There were no reports of injuries to firefighters or civilians.

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