With the Co-op next door and the Mendocino County Department of Social Services building about 10 feet away, Buckingham said UVFA crews attacked the flames after he immediately called for assistance from nearby departments such as Potter Valley, Redwood Valley and Cal Fire.
UVFA Battalion Chief Justin Buckingham said when crews were dispatched to the fire around 4 15 a.m. July 23, it was first reported to be in the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op, the recently expanded grocery store at the corner of East Gobbi and South Main streets. But when firefighters arrived, they found the roof of Norge Cleaners on fire.
“But the roof gave way, and the front facade of the (cleaners) building came down,” said Buckingham, adding that the popular round Norge sign was “half on fire” when he arrived and later fell into the building when the roof collapsed.
Fortunately, Buckingham said the “fire wall separating the Co-op from the cleaners held,” and firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the grocery store and the social services building.
Ukiah Natural Foods was closed Friday for “smoke restoration” due to the fire. Norge Cleaners had been in operation since 1981, and the building was described as a “total loss.”
When asked Friday how the fire started Buckingham said “we still don’t know yet,” explaining that it appears to have started inside the building and does not seem suspicious.