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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 1:58 pm | Fair 62º


Utility Room Fire at Downtown Ralphs Forces Evacuation

Grocery store back in business after firefighters put out blaze, health inspection clears market

An electrical fire forced the evacuation of Ralphs supermarket in downtown Santa Barbara early Saturday, but the blaze caused minimal damage and the store was reopened several hours later.

There were no injuries in the incident.

According to Santa Barbara Fire Department Battalion Chief Robert Mercado, a smoke alarm sounded just after midnight at the store at 100 W. Carrillo St. — across the street from Fire Station 1.

Firefighters with Engine 1 arrived and, during their preliminary search, found the sprinkler system activated in a small utility room adjacent to the store's meat department, along with smoke and some flames, he said.

Reinforcements were called and Santa Barbara police evacuated the store. Mercado told Noozhawk that firefighters pulled a hose line into the building and had the fire out in about 10 minutes.

The fire damage was contained inside the utility room, he said, but there was water damage to other areas of the store.

"The store's floor drains weren't able to handle the volume of water we had to use so there was some water damage, which we helped clean up," Mercado said.

Store manager Deanna Anderson told Noozhawk that the fire was caused by an electrical fire in a battery pack stored in the utility room.

The store was reopened at 8 a.m. after the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department inspected the premises, she said.

Mercado said the building's sprinkler system worked as intended.

"The sprinklers performed exactly as they were supposed to," he said. "They're not designed to put the fire out, but to slow it down. And they did."

Three engines, a truck and a battalion chief responded to the fire, said Mercado, who added that it was one of the most convenient assignments they've had.

"It couldn't really get any closer for us," he laughed.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Ralphs employees and Santa Barbara firefighters confer after an early morning fire at the 100 W. Carrillo St. store Saturday. (Urban Hikers photo)
Ralphs employees and Santa Barbara firefighters confer after an early morning fire at the 100 W. Carrillo St. store Saturday. (Urban Hikers photo)

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