LOS ALTOS, Calif. - A three-alarm fire on Christmas morning tore through some beloved Los Altos businesses, damaging a judo studio, a salon, an SAT tutoring center and a dance school.
Santa Clara County Fire, which provides fire services for Los Altos, said on Tuesday that it could be weeks before the cause of the fire is determined.
Fire investigators said the entire building is unsafe, and they can't begin their investigation until some demolition work is done.
"Before we go any further in the investigation, we need to demolish, basically remove the second story and first story, and once that is removed it will be safe for us to go in," said Assistant Fire Marshal Jeremy Davis.
The demolition process will likely start after the new year.
Firefighters from throughout the Peninsula raced to put out the three-alarm fire reported at around 5:40 a.m. Monday on El Camino Real between North San Antonio Road and Sherwood Avenue, some of which still remained closed Tuesday morning.
Eastbound El Camino Real is expected to remain indefinitely closed due to the risk the entire building may collapse and could impact the roadway.
It didn't take long for Katie Baik to create a GoFundMe for the Bay Area Dance School, where the roof collapsed. She said her dance community is "heartbroken" this Christmas and she asked for support to rebuild.
"We've had people reach out and say, ‘What do you need? How can we help support kids? How can we support you?’" said Leyla Boissonnade, owner of the dance school. "We're extremely grateful and blessed. Bit also completely in shock and disbelief."
She said a group of girls were set to go to Seattle for a competition but their uniforms burned.
"It was just the worst Christmas morning," she said.
Raul Tamayo, who has run a judo club in the building since November 2022, told the Mercury News that on a typical weekday, the center is frequented by families and children, which also includes a Chinese library.
Tamayo said he plans to find a temporary location in the interim and eventually, he plans to rebuild.
Larry Chu, co-owner of Chef’s Chu’s restaurant, said the small business community in the area is close.
"Since the pandemic we have gone through a lot all of these small businesses we have been really supportive of each other," Chu said.
Another damaged business is Lady M Cake Boutique, where manager Juan Delgado was able to get some business records out on Tuesday under the supervision of firefighters.
"As a manager my concern is with the staff," Delgado said.
There were several fires on Christmas in the Bay Area, including another one in San Leandro, Martinez and a deadly one in Menlo Park on Christmas Eve.