Saturday, January 18, 2014

Groeger's Block Fire of 2014

The squat and solid looking cinderblock building housing Groeger Special Tooling has held down the southeast corner of Bay and Douglas in Redwood City since 1985 when owner Jochim "Joe" Groeger, designed the structure himself.

"I wanted a building as large as possible for the property, said Mr. Groeger, who is listed as "(Watch Maker) and President" on his business cards.   "I drew up some plans - 50' X 100' -- and took them down to the city hall and fire station so I could approved to build my structure. The architects and engineers there said they'd never seen such clean and neat drawings, and declared them perfect!" said Joe, letting out a big smile.

"Where'd you learn to draw like that Mr. Groeger?" they asked.

"I'm a technical guy. I like that kind of SCHTUFF!" said Joe and burst out laughing.

Many years ago, the property owner next door asked Joe casually if he could share Joe's cinderblock wall and build a roof out from it to help reduce the costs of his own structure.

"No," replied Joe. "You build your own wall.  Two buildings; two walls. With a space in between!"

That kind of prudent thinking paid off  early Friday morning at about 5:30am, January 17, 2014 when a fire allegedly started at another shop burned down much of the block.

Light shines through the space Joe demanded be built between the two walls.   Joe's shop was undamaged by the fire which utterly destroyed the property next door, as well as several other properties on the block. Our hearts go out to those who lost property in the fire. Luckily no one was injured in the blaze. 

Thank to Hans for the news screen shot graphic. 

Joe's shop survived largely due to the solidity and quality of the building he designed and had built. Based on the condition of the roof, it appears as if water, dropped by firemen's ladders, kept the roof moist enough to withstand the tar bursting in to flame. The roof itself was strong enough to hold the tons of water on top, and the robust drain stacks were able to carry away the water quickly enough so that roof did not collapse under tons of water. 

So much water flowed from the site that the "tide" washed the half-burnt flotsam half way up the drive, depositing it, and indicating "high tide".  Somewhat ironic that the billboard in Joe's lot advertises the Air Quality Resource Board. 

The boys showed up bright and early on Saturday to asses the damage and offer help. 

Firemen cut a hole in the side roll up door about 6' square. They must had a go of it since it was corrugated aluminum track mounted. Luckily Joe's motorcycles were undamaged. 

A crew was called in late Friday night to board up the damaged door.  Thanks to Blaise for the photo. 

The firemen are not blocking access to Joe's shop. Joe is optimistic his insurance will cover any damage.

During breakfast Joe was content to dine alone, at a separate table from the group, perhaps contemplating his good fortune. 

It seems to me as if sometimes one has no control over one's life. Was it W.C. Fields who said, "You pays your money and you takes your chances" ?   However, on the other hand, it occurs to me that the farther one journeys on the path of life, the more likely one is bound to encounter disasters and catastrophes. The prudent man prepares and builds his castle walls thick, and lives to see another day.

Pending the electricity being re-activated -- he and Lola are expected to roll up in Joe's 1953 Mercedes Benz on Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. to open Groeger Special Tooling for business as usual ... a routine that hasn't changed much in several decades. 

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