Cause of fire at Paso Robles fairgrounds was electrical, officials say

No injuries in fire at building that contained maintenance equipment; cause is unknown

Tribune staff reportFebruary 25, 2014 

UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: Following an investigation by the state Fire Marshal's Office and Cal Fire, the cause of last night's fire in a building at the Paso Robles Events Center has been determined to be electrical.

Investigators spent the morning examining the site and determined that the fire originated from a shelf where multiple tools and batteries were plugged into and charging on a power strip, according to Cal Fire investigator Zach Nichols.

Arson has been ruled out as a cause, Nichols said Tuesday afternoon.

The 50- by 100-foot metal building located on the northeast corner of the property was used to store maintenance equipment and other tools.

According to Nichols, Paso Robles police and fire officials responded to a call for a smoke check and began patrolling the area at about 8:45 p.m. Monday night. Maintenance personnel then discovered the fire and reported it to the Fire Department.

According to Paso Robles Event Center CEO Vivian Robertson, the building has been deemed unusable and staff has 48 hours to remove the surviving equipment.

She said the center's insurance carrier's construction specialist will make a determination as to the fate of the building, as well as estimated monetary loss.

Robertson said Tuesday afternoon that a very preliminary estimate is somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000.

She added that while she was relieved to learn the fire was not set intentionally, the news of the blaze came as a shock as the center has not suffered a similar fire in nearly 40 years.

"I am extremely thankful to the mutual aid provided by all the different agencies that responded," Robertson said. "They converged on us like a small army."

Original story: Firefighters snuffed a blaze at a building that contained maintenance equipment at the Paso Robles Event Center on Monday night.

When Paso Robles firefighters arrived at 8:51 p.m., about 25 percent of the 50-by-100-foot metal building was engulfed in flames. It took firefighters about an hour to contain the fire.

Officials did not know the cause of the fire, according to a news release from the Paso Robles Department of Emergency Services on Monday night.

The structure, at the northeast corner of the property where the California Mid-State Fair is held each year, remains standing. Firefighters planned to stay on the scene for several hours to ensure the blaze had been extinguished, the news release said.

Atascadero and Templeton fire departments as well as County/Cal Fire also responded to the fire.

No livestock was on the grounds at the time, and no one was injured. Monetary losses were not known Monday night.

The investigation has been turned over to Cal Fire because the fire occurred on state property, the news release said.

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