One person dead, firefighter injured after blaze in county-owned building near Santa Cruz County jail
Fire crews responded to the blaze at a building at 265 Water Street shortly after 3 a.m. Person who died is identified on Thursday.
One person is dead and a firefighter was injured after a fire broke out at a county-owned building in downtown Santa Cruz early Wednesday.
The person who died was identified as 43-year-old Santa Cruz resident Shandra Marie Gutierrez.
Fire crews responded to the blaze at a building at 265 Water Street shortly after 3 a.m. When they arrived, they found the rear of the building burning and one person exiting, said Santa Cruz Fire Battalion Chief Josh Coleman.
Firefighters found a deceased person inside. One firefighter sustained minor injuries and was treated at Dominican Hospital and later released. Coleman said he couldn’t disclose any details about the nature of those injuries — or details about the deceased person.
The county-owned building was a former 10-bed “sobering center,” run by non-profit organization Janus of Santa Cruz, said county spokesperson Jason Hoppin.
The facility had been used to provide individuals who were arrested for public intoxication a safe place to sober up as an alternative to booking them into a jail cell. A referral specialist could help guide clients toward resources in the community before they were discharged.
The center, which opened in 2015, was shut down earlier this year because of budget cuts and the building had been boarded up to prevent people from entering it.
When fire crews arrived “several individuals” were inside, Hoppin said.
“Evidently there were people that gained entry, unfortunately,” he said, adding that the damage to the building was extensive.
Coleman said between two and six people were inside the building.
Hoppin said the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office was working on notifying next of kin for the deceased person. Until then, no identifying information about the victim will be released.
The city of Santa Cruz tweeted a picture by SLV Steve on Wednesday morning showing towering flames and smoke billowing out of the building. That tweet has since been deleted by the city due to erroneous information.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Clarification: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the building was part of the Santa Cruz County jail.