Cause of The Sub fire in SLO remains ‘undetermined’

December 14, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.10.17 PM

Nearly one year after a fire destroyed a popular San Luis Obispo retail store and head shop, city fire officials still have not assigned a cause to the blaze. The business, though, has posted on its Facebook page that arsonists caused the fire.

On Dec. 26, 2015, a fire broke out at The Sub on Higuera Street around 10:50 a.m. After 8 p.m. that day, smoke was continuing to billow from the business.

The fire sparked controversy because the owner of the business and the San Luis Obispo Fire Department traded blame for the extent of the damage. The Sub owners are making a documentary about the travesty that was done to it, according to The Subs Facebook page.

Recently, KSBY obtained the fire department’s incident report, which lists the cause of the blaze as undetermined. Roger Maggio, San Luis Obispo’s fire marshal, said inspectors could not complete an interior investigation because the building was so unsafe.

The Sub has posted on its Facebook page the fire was started in an area not accessible to customers.

In the aftermath of the fire, Richard Ferris, the co-owner of The Sub, said he arrived at the scene of the blaze 10 minutes after it started. At the time, the blaze was confined to the front box window, but no firefighter would take a hose in the building and fight the fire, Ferris said. He added that a single fireman with a hose could have put out the fire.

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

City fire officials said firefighters could not extinguish the blaze quickly because there were high stacks of highly combustible materials inside the business. The fire department also blamed the lack of fire-blocking materials in the building’s walls. The building was built before contemporary regulations on fire-blocking materials took effect.

According to the fire department’s account of the incident, the stacks of highly combustible synthetic materials fueled the fire, causing heavy heat and smoke, which forced crews to leave the building. When firefighters reentered the building, they had to again retreat before tons of flaming debris cut off their exit. From that point on, the firefighters battled the blaze exclusively from outside of the building.

The Sub is currently trying to reopen. The business had hoped to reopen in time for Christmas, but it now does not expect to do so until 2017.

Company officials have requested that anyone who has photos or videos of the fire contact The Sub.

“Help us get the arsonists convicted!” The Sub posted on its Facebook page last month.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sadly I cannot give a flying leap about this business or any other in fascist San Luis Obispo, however, I can add that these idiots at he sub had some strange things in the window that looked suspiciously like lighted fire hazards. If indeed the fire started where I am thinking it probably did, the sub and a substandard building would be to blame. I hope they dont get anything from insurance. Congrats to the fire department for not being idiots and risking thier life for that crappy building. It was a major fire hazard from the beginning, as are most buildings of downtown San Luis Obispo.

You really should not beat around the bush, but tell us how you really feel…

The SLOFD sure didn’t seem to be too aggressive about actually “fighting” that fire — particularly from the very beginning where it might have actually been extinguished. They seemed to be more interested in containing the fire to the one property.

The owner is calling it arson. OK, The Fire broke out at 10:50 am. Wouldn’t employees be there? or was it closed at the time? That would certainly narrow it down if true. In the mean time this eyesore, dangerous burnt out structure is currently only being propped up by 2x4s next to a busy street and the city has done nothing? Why is it still even standing if its so dangerous? Sounds like the lame blame game has begun. It should have been demolished a long time ago.

Probably because it is taking the SLOFD over a year to “investigate” it. Not sure what the hold up is (beyond the aforementioned 2x4s), but I would think that any ongoing investigation means they may not be able to alter the potential crime scene.

Maybe Rossi or the Copelands wanted that particular piece of land. After all, we are badly in need of another bar or Italian shoe shop….

Why the heck has this not been cleaned up? This place is a hazard and looks like crud.

Owner claims bureaucracy. I can imagine. But I think it would be better off demolished rather than a new roof. Time to move on.

I’m going to guess that a brand new building on that chunk of property wouldn’t be nearly as large. I suspect the owner is trying to preserve the former structure’s “footprint.”