GOLETA, Calif. - A massive commercial building fire in Goleta has been determined to be an accident according to investigators with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
The fire burned for hours Sunday night. It was first reported just after 9 p.m.
The fire engine company on scene saw smoke and flames, and called for multiple engines to assist. That resulted in a large call out for resources from the county, City of Santa Barbara, and City of Santa Maria. Those crews helped on the fire scene and in the station houses as backup.
Fire information officer Mike Eliason said crews were on scene all night, and water was aggressively sprayed on the structure and into windows on the first and second floors. There was an interior collapse. That may have an impact on the investigation. "They want to preserve the scene as best as possible, " said Eliason.
Among the businesses in the large building at 650 Ward Drive included: Gold Crest, Inc., Augie’s Water Systems, Derrick’s Roofing, Above All Storage, the Afghanistan Dental Relief Project, and The Islamic Society of Santa Barbara.
Imam Yama Niazi spoke with NewsChannel 3 Monday and said his office and room or worship was on the opposite end of the building. It sustained smoke damage. He said there is no criminal intent towards the Islamic Society, although there have been some questions raised. "We can safely say that is not the story," said Niazi. He said the Islamic community have been warmly received and "they know what we stand for. We stand for peace."
They need a one year lease in a new location, while a mosque is built on Los Carneros. A Go Fund Me page has been started.
Some of the other business owners were assessing their areas Monday. Storage customers did not have significant damage. A lighting company had products in cardboard boxes that were showered with water.
Red tags from building officials were posted on doors pending further inspections for structural safety and other concerns. Utilities were damaged throughout the building.
Fire officials say the structure was older and did not have a sprinkler system as is required in modern new construction.