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.


Me thinks Richard Ferris doth protest too much…

He stands around watching the fire (ARSON) and telling everyone just how much merchandise / MONEY he’s losing…whoa that should satisfy the Insurance Company for a large payout.



I direct your attention to paragraph three last sentence. Vinyl (flexiable pvc) contains dioxin one of the most hazardous chemicals, when burned.

That said, did it occur to ANYONE that maybe the fire dept understands what products where in the building and that (besides the piles of other material) decide it was better to get out of building and potential harm to their people? And PLEASE save me the……well then it was a bigger fire burning into the air. Like I said before on other post, lot of Monday Morning Q.B.’s here with no facts yet. Hell we don’t even know what started the fire and EVERYBODY is up in arms. Let this play out and then if they (firefighters) are shown to have lacked in going after fire, then go for it but till then, they deserve like EVERYONE else, innocent till proven guilty.


I’d be interested to know how many folks that were around that fire watching from across the street or just happened to be downwind when the vinyl (over 100,000! Can you say “hoarder?”)

started to burn have suffered from the smoke. I know of several people already who still have headaches, irritated throats (me) nausea (me) burning nostrils (me) etc. This stuff is really toxic and its effects don’t go away necessarily:

“If individuals did inhale what amounted to HCL they have suffered tissue damage that is nothing to joke about. Consider the long term effects that chlorine gas had on ww1 veterans.

I think you and those similarly affected might do well to consult with legal counsel. At least some people are apt to suffer problems much longer than just a few days or weeks.”


Don’t they have annual fire inspections in SLO?

Why were they allowed to have so much combustiable materials without suitable fire sprinbklers etc?


I used to own a business in San Luis Obispo and they only inspect if it doesn’t interfere with grocery shopping.


guess the rookies were asleep on that one……in addition they should have fire plans to execute for every business.


It was an old building, grand-fathered in to no require sprinklers. It is extremely expensive and difficult to add a fire sprinkler system to an existing building – I’ve never seen it done around here, but could be wrong.

All new constructions and remodels require it. This does not mean there are not required fire inspections, but they may not even inspect much more beyond the small extinguishers posted per requirements. If there’s no sprinkler or alarm system to inspect, it ain’t done.


100,000 vinyl records in the basement? That is something like 15 tons of inflammable plastic. Vinyl gives off cyanide when it burns; it is highly toxic. In addition, they stored inflammable fabrics and paper up to the ceiling. What did the owner think would happen if a fire ever started? The building were packed full with tons of highly inflammable materials. The Fire Department can only do so much if you aren’t going to operate your business safely and responsibly.


where was that mitigated in the annual fire inspection….or were the boys busy cooking lasagna dinner and degrading women? beating up citizens?



They should have sent Mason in first…he could have single handedly kicked the $@!% out of the fire.




The same fire department that hired back John Ryan Mason after he nearly beat to death someone at a local bar……..


Sorry to see any successful, longtime business go up in flames. I assume that the owners had huge love for their merchandise….so I can understand that they are grieving that loss.

Just a guess: The store may have been run more for passion and not had the profits to afford effective fire protection. Clearly the space was not fire-safe for the quantities and types of merchandise.

Hopefully the owners will eventually be able to see that they were lucky that no employees or firefighters were seriously injured and that it would be wrong to expect anyone to risk their lives for any of that stuff.


I’m wondering if this is arson as there is clearly a serial arsonist on the loose.

I feel bad for the owner, yet I think there should have been a very clear fire plan due to the storage of materials.

As for SLOFD, well, all this type of thing is reviewed, so best not to jump to conclusions. I agree they can’t just depend on what someone says, and they follow a procedure each time. Pay rate of a completely different topic.

I feel really bad for the neighboring businesses too. Particularly Quality Fabrics as I am a customer there and I can imagine that lost a lot/most of their inventory to smoke& water damage.

Fire is a horrible thing. I wish the best for those involved.


I would blame a fireman for not risking his life when another life is at stake.

Not so much when it’s stuff.