Burned SLO building once destined for church, now a complete los - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Burned SLO building once destined for church, now a complete loss

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Hours after a building caught fire in San Luis Obispo, firefighters continued to put out flames and tamp down smoke. The building, once home to the Unity Church, is a complete loss and neighbors say it was full of fond memories.

"They used to have a little theater when my kids were young, so we used to go there to see performance," Hong Cao said.

Cao lives across the street and said the fire department started its attack without a sound. She woke up to the sound of what she thought was a car parking, but found a much different view out her bedroom window.

"I just opened my window and saw the fire and the flame coming out from the building," she said, pointing to the smoke still rising.

When crews arrived, the front rooms of the building were fully engulfed, with flames having spread to other areas, according to San Luis Obispo City Fire Battalion Chief Bob Bisson.

"It was a significant firefight and you can see by the damage behind me that the building is a total loss," he said, motioning to the charred building.

Bisson said the building was no longer used as a church. It had been leased as commercial office space by the property owner.

"It was leased out to a number of other small businesses, one in particular that builds - from what I'm told - builds robots of some sort."

But the building's purpose was soon to return to its original use. According to Active Church, a recently opened parish in downtown San Luis Obispo, it was in negotiations to renovate and move into the building around July 2018.

Pastor Adam Magaña said in part, "You don't see real estate like this every day that's already zoned for a church and has parking. The fire has impacted that."

Fire crews began digging out and pulling down unstable portions of the building to check for any leftover hot spots around noon. Once the property was deemed fire-free, Battalion Chief Bisson said it was up to the property owner to install protective fencing to prevent anyone from entering.

"So it just remains the shell of a building until the Property owner can completely excavate and throw it away," Bisson explained.

Pastor Magaña says Active Church is now in the hunt for a new home. While the parish searches for a new location, fire investigators will continue their search for a source of the fire, which could take weeks to months.

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