The aftermath of a three-alarm fire has J Street near 10th Street partially closed Thursday morning.
Fire engines still at the scene and cleanup work by Sacramento firefighters are both likely to bottleneck traffic as commuters arrive downtown for work. Tenth Street was open by 7 a.m. but only one lane on J Street had been reopened.
The smoky fire began around 2:30 a.m. in the vacant, three-story Biltmore Hotel. Fire officials said that the blaze had the potential to spread into a much larger incident. However, quickly arriving personnel and engines, including a ladder truck, contained the fire to the old hotel.
The fire apparently broke out in the basement of the structure, fire officials said. Sacramento fire officials say there is a chance that people were living in the shuttered hotel.
Two vacant buildings on each side of the Biltmore Hotel were undamaged but smoke did intrude into those adjacent structures.
“These are old buildings, boarded up for a long time,” said Sacramento Fire Department firefighter Roberto Padilla. “There are many ways for the fire to spread. For us to get equipment there as soon as possible, is the best way for us to attack these fires.”
Firefighters were able to pour water on the basement fire without having to initially enter the building because the first level floor was damaged. Firefighters eventually entered the building to extinguish hot spots by using fire escapes, entering the structure from the top down.
“It was a technical and tactical approach,” said Padilla.
Cause of the fire is not known. A representative from the city of Sacramento was on scene to assess damage.
Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.