On Sunday at approximately 1:30 pm, Contra Costa County Fire responded to a report of a fire in the underground storm water drainage system
According to Aaron McAlister, Assistant Fire Chief, this tunnel is 1500 feet in length from the end of Kelley Court under SR4 to El Pueblo Avenue. In the middle of the tunnel was a structure that had been constructed by homeless persons.
McAlister highlighted while the fire burned itself out, it was necessary to determine if anyone was injured in the tunnel.
“This was a significant effort in order to search a large area, underground. A confined space such as this presents many potential hazards for occupants and rescuers. These hazards include an oxygen deficient environment, hazardous materials, biological hazards, obstacles, and collapse potential,” said McAlister. “In order to safely search this area, Contra Costa County Fire utilized multiple truck, rescue, engine and HAZMAT companies. Complex incidents such as these are a significant effort for our organization and take multiple hours to conclude.”
Once inside, we determined this illegally erected structure and its contents were completely consumed by fire. While inside the tunnel, the crews found spalling on the concrete ceiling caused by the fire. This spalling caused enough concrete to be dislodged to expose rebar. There were no victims located in the tunnel or the fire area. There were no injuries to rescuers in the incident.
According to McAlister, crews were on scene for approximately 5-hours.
Crews from other areas of the County provided coverage in Pittsburg and Antioch during the incident. Walnut Creek Police provided us mutual aid with a robot to assist in the search.