Fire destroys barn near Hollister; chocolate factory spared

Fire fighters work to contain a barn fire that destroyed the

A fire that started around 7:30 p.m. Sunday destroyed a barn
along Briggs Road in Hollister, while crews contained it to the one
building and prevented it from spreading to an array of neighboring
structures, including the DeBrito Chocolate Factory.
A fire that started around 7:30 p.m. Sunday destroyed a barn along Briggs Road in Hollister, while crews contained it to the one building and prevented it from spreading to an array of neighboring structures, including the DeBrito Chocolate Factory.

There was no official cause available early Monday for the blaze near the 100 block of Briggs Road close to the intersection of the Highway 25 bypass, said CalFire spokesman Jonathan Pangburn. It completely destroyed the barn structure, though, he said.

Firefighters from CalFire and several other local agencies responded to the blaze. When they arrived it already was fully involved. Crews did a “primary search” of the area and got all people out of threatened buildings, he said. There were structures, farm equipment, orchards and other vegetation surrounding the barn, but none of it was damaged. Additionally, nobody was injured in the blaze, he said.

Firefighters had the blaze contained by about 8 p.m., but it was too late for the barn operated by Tonascia Farms and owned by the neighboring chocolate factory. Neither Tonascia Farms nor the chocolate factory owners could be reached immediately before press time.

Joe and Karen Tonascia are owners of the farm business, which runs the Bertuccio’s produce stand at 2410 Airline Highway, just north of the Union Road intersection.

Pacific Gas & Electric also responded to Sunday’s fire, Pangburn noted.

“There was a line down out there so they had to come out to deal with that,” he said.

Aside from CalFire and its three engines, many other agencies responded to the incident. The San Benito County Fire Department was the lead agency. The Hollister Fire Department responded with an engine and ladder truck and also provided an air/light unit to refill oxygen tanks for crews entering the barn. The North Monterey County Protection Fire District helped out and brought a water tender, as did the South Santa Clara County department, because there were no hydrants in that area north of Hollister. There were additional volunteers there, too, he said.

“It was a very large structure and was putting off a lot of heat,” Pangburn said. “They had to get lines around on each side of the building and neighboring structures.”

Pangburn said there were firefighters on scene until around midnight, and the investigator was working well into the night as well.

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