Dispute erupts after SLO fire burns The Sub

December 28, 2015

151226h3sFollowing a fire that destroyed The Sub and burned day and night Saturday, the business owner and the San Luis Obispo Fire Department are trading blame for the extent of the damage.

The Sub is a retail store and head shop located in the 200 block of Higuera Street. The fire destroyed 40 years of collectible graphics in the store, including 100,000 vinyls in the basement, co-owner Richard Ferris said. [Tribune]

Ferris told the Tribune he arrived at the scene 10 minutes after the fire started, and at the time, the fire was confined to the front box window. A single fireman with a hose could have put out the fire, but no firefighter would take a hose in the building and fight the fire, Ferris said.

The business owner also said firefighters ignored him when he tried to explain the interior of the building.

On Sunday, the fire department issued a press release giving its account of the blaze.

Fire officials say the blaze spread quickly because of the dense storage of highly flammable materials in the warehouse and the lack of fireblocking. Contemporary regulations require there be fireblocking materials materials in the walls, but the building was constructed before the the rules took effect.

The first fire unit arrived within three minutes of being dispatched, according to the news release. The fire was consuming the front of the retail area of the store, and flames were billowing out the front windows.Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.10.17 PM

Crews immediately began attacking the fire from the interior and cutting holes in the roof to help remove smoke and extreme heat, the news release states.

Stacks of highly combustible synthetic materials — as high as 18 feet — fueled the fire. Heavy heat and smoke triggered by the excessive fire load forced crews to leave the building, according to the fire department.

When additional crews entered, an opening in the firewall allowed the fire to reach the stacks of synthetic materials. the blaze surrounded the firefighters, and they had to retreat before tons of flaming debris cut off their exit, the press release states.

From that point on, firefighters battled the blaze exclusively from outside the building.

Fire personnel responded to the blaze at 10:50 a.m. At 8 p.m., smoke continued to billow from The Sub while firefighters from multiple agencies battled the blaze.

Firefighters worked overnight extinguishing flare ups, according to the fire department.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire. Witnesses reported hearing a loud explosive sound around the onset of the fire.


Wait, the head shop burned down? Aw man, where am I going to buy my head?

Jorge Estrada

Give it a little time and there will be a high rise slated to be constructed on that now cleared “under utilized” property.


Especially if they promise low income housing.


If it was just in the front bay window like the owner says, and IF he had fire extinguishers in the building why did he not just put it out????

SVflicka even says how his employees were affected by the smoke early on. And I agree the way Richard kept saying the fire fighters would not listen to him. So are they to take the time to listen to Richard to his satisfaction BEFORE they fight the fire. And let’s not forget while they are listening to him, his building is being consumed more by the fire.

I feel the fire fighters did their job just not to Richard’s liking. Sometimes they can’t save a structure because of all the crap inside. And it sounds and looks like there was a lot of stuff in the building, why else would it have burned for so many hours.

I am glad that no one was injured, and hopefully the other businesses will be able to be back up and operating in no time.


Richard Ferris knows ZERO about the process of fighting a fire and when the first responders arrived the building was well involved. What he did was hinder their process and he should have been arrested by law enforcement. His building was a tinder box full of toxic fuel. Once Richard & Kjrsten’s warehouse full of toxic vinyl records went up in smoke I had to send my 5 employees home due to the acrid smoke that descended upon our open air store 3 blocks downwind. They not only lost their days’ wage but we lost a day’s profit and put our customers at an inconvenience on one of our busiest days. So, yes, I take great offense to Richard and Kjrsten when they slam the firefighters for doing their job and doing it well when they have been operating their business with negligence for so many years. My heart goes out to their many employees who lost their jobs, however.


Why didn’t you choose to pay your five employees given the situation? That was YOUR decision.

Smart & Final, directly across the street from the fire remained open. Its employees remained on the clock and it continued to service its customers.


my heart goes out to the employees who make minimum wage at your place of business but still have to pay taxes to compensate incompetent fireman who make over $100K per year with incredible benefits and pension – who at the first opportunity will feign any kind of injury to take workers comp or sue the city for wrongdoing/discrimination/harrassment. The vile runs deep here.


dont forget that this vile public servant was actually rehired. Laughable.



The amount of $$$ that SLO taxpayers pour into police and fire is huge. The number of firetrucks making daily food runs is nauseating (particularly “truck #1”.) Yet this fire (granted, not a run of the mill fire) required resources from fire organizations across SLO County to contain. It actually seemed like the fire truck from Atascadero was doing the lion’s share of the work.

Four things come to mind. First, Mr. Ferris should have been more diligent in the storage of his materials — including making sure that a sound firewall was in place between his warehouse and retail store. Second, he should have invested in a halon fire suppression system or at least water sprinklers given the amount and type of material stored in his warehouse. Third, he and his employees should have been trained on how to initially act in case of fire using appropriate fire extinguishers and water hoses.

Fourth, I do think the SLOFD’s response needs to be thoroughly reviewed. Given the amount of resources poured into the department, I wouldn’t have expected that mutual aid would be required to put out the fire in a single building. The department’s managerial performance needs to be carefully reviewed.


A review should also include the SLOPD’s performance. While they made a big show out of blocking-off Higuera, they made a big mistake by letting people view the fire from directly across Pismo and Walker Streets. Had there been an explosion, the human loss would have been catastrophic.

The circle of SLO Cops talking and laughing while standing on Pismo Street in the midst of this situation was downright infuriating.


a volunteer fire department could have produced the same result.


I’m not sure if that’s true or not. But given all the fire equipment and firefighters cruising around the City of SLO I’m a bit alarmed that the SLOFD could not handle a one building fire (albeit a very difficult fire) without requesting mutual aid from throughout SLO County.


The way the chief describes it I don’t blame them for not wanting tons of molten plastic to block their exit. Feel sorry for the owners on this one!


the fire chief makes over $200K per year and his cronies are all well north of $100k per year. they deserve a little heat for not being able to put out the fire in the kitchen. 5 fire stations in SLO and i guarantee you the chief will push for another after this. F’ these public servants who charge through the roof and promise to protect you and your property but deliver nothing but whining.


Actually the fire chief does not make over $200k a year and there are only four fire stations in SLO. So, pretty much every fact in your comment was wrong. You might want to check your fact so you don’t come off as angery and stupid!


Angery ……and stupid…..love it……total compensation is well over $200k a year. a description that is lost on you i am sure. You may hate liberals but you if you love yourself you love idiots!


there are five you forgot to include cal poly. easy oversight for someone who buys propaganda wherever and whenever thrown.


Here’s the salaries of the Fire Dept from2014 (the latest update of the website)



Witnesses reported hearing a loud explosive sound…ARSON….? ? ?

The fire destroyed 40 years of collectible graphics in the store, including 100,000 vinyl’s in the basement.

The owner should receive a NICE INSURANCE PAYOUT for his losses…



Sub basement in flames, owner looses his s**t on KSBY, blames firemen for having short hoses.

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