Sacto 9-1-1
October 21, 2010
Midtown food bank damaged by four-alarm fire


foodbank.gifBy Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.comA four-alarm fire ripped through a midtown food bank and offices of the Episcopal church early this morning.

The two buildings on 27th Street near Capitol Avenue were heavily damaged, especially the River City Food Bank. The food bank serves more than 36,000 people every year.

About 8,000 pounds of food was in the food bank when the fire broke out.

"We believe that food is gone but we have not been able to go into the building," said Lesley Miller, spokeswoman for the food bank.

The fire did not harm nearby Trinity Cathedral, the cathedral for the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.

The blaze, which is under investigation, broke out about 1:45 a.m. at the food bank. The fire spread to the diocesan offices, eventually going to four alarms with 104 firefighters responding.

Flames shot 20 to 30 feet into the air and it took more than an hour to bring the blaze under control, said Capt. Jonathan Burgess, spokesman for the Sacramento Fire Department.

"The food bank was pretty much a complete loss," said Burgess.

The food bank is not operated by the church, although it receives support from many congregations. Started by St. Paul's Episcopal it was headquartered at Trinity Cathedral at one time.

Until 1997, the food bank was affiliated with Episcopal Community Services. But for more than a decade the food bank has been independent, providing emergency food and shelter.

The diocesan office building suffered damage to the attic and rooms upstairs. Downstairs rooms were in good condition, except for water damage, Burgess said.

Two people from a nearby apartment were evacuated but then later allowed to go back to their residence.

Several people reported the fire, which is under investigation.

Firefighters had a tough time breaking through the ceiling to get to the fire in the attic of the food bank. That forced firefighters to pull out and pour water onto the two-story building from the outside.

"Firefighters did a good job stopping it," said Burgess. "Flame was 20-30 feet in the air from the food bank."

Anyone who wants to help the food bank replenish its supplies with the holidays approaching, is encouraged to donate online at

Photo caption: Firefighters mop at the River City Food Bank in Sacramento on Thursday morning after a four-alarm fire ripped through the food bank and offices of the Episcopal church. Photo by Randy Pench.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

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