SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - 11 people are without a home in San Jose Friday night, after a four-alarm fire ripped through two homes near downtown. The fire happened across the street from Fire Station 30 that had no engine and no water to fight the flames due to budget cuts. Firefighters had to wait for a fire engine from a station two miles away to respond.
Cell phone video captured the intense flames that burned two Victorian-style homes on Auzerais Avenue in San Jose. The fast-moving fire sent heavy smoke over downtown.
"I lost everything my academic career stuff, essays I've written, photos from out of the country," said Ruben Mendoza. "I don't care about the PS4 or the TV. I care about my valuables."
Mendoza was home at the time and got his disabled mother and four dogs out safe. The blaze broke out just after noon. Fire officials said it may have started in the backyard. The exact cause is under investigation.
"This particular fire went to four alarms due to the fact that we had multiple units burning and there were a few challenges that we faced," said San Jose Fire Capt. Tremaine Thierry.
Among the challenges included a fire house across the street with firefighters and fire truck but no engine with a hose, pump and 600 gallons of water to put the fire out.
"That engine has been browned out since 2010," said Capt. Thierry.
Other crews got there quickly, but Mendoza calls the delay and lack of funding disappointing.
"What if I didn't pay attention, what if I was in the shower my mom is disabled she can't walk," said Mendoza. "We could have died. Those things go through my head and it's infuriating they didn't come at a reasonable time."
KTVU reached out to city officials and got a statement from the city's manager's office that said, "The fire department has done a tremendous job with allocating resources given the tough choices and cost reductions. The fire engine that contained water arrived on scene within five minutes and well-within the target response time. Even so, we continue to look for ways to bring back service levels to what they were five years ago."
The Red Cross is helping put those displaced in hotels as fire investigators work through the night to watch for hot spots and pinpoint a cause.