Firebaugh residents and lovers of San Joaquin Valley history were mourning Tuesday the loss of the historic Rebecchi’s Department Store, which caught fire and collapsed during firefighting efforts.
The structure, which was built in the mid-1800s, was a longtime fixture on the west side town. Firebaugh Fire Chief John Barboa said the blaze began in Maria’s Barber Shop in the building and quickly spread through other parts of the structure.
Jason Colquhoun, a photographer who works with a nearby aviation company, saw the flames erupt. He sped to the scene and captured the firefighting effort as crews from Fresno, Kerman and Firebaugh battled the fire.
Colquhoun said firefighters were aware that the building was dangerous because of its age and condition and took a defensive position outside because there was no one trapped inside. About 10 a.m., the south wall collapsed and he said the structure is “a total loss.”
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Said Colquhoun: “It’s really sad. It was one of the original buildings in town.”