The 8 Most Common Reasons Your Flat Roof Could Fail Prematurely

 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Truths About Your Commercial Roofing System

The Good – When kept clean of trash and debris, along with proper maintenance, your flat roofing system can last significantly longer than its original warranty.

 The Bad – Because flat and low-slope roof systems serve more purposes than simply protecting the building beneath them, they are more prone to premature deterioration than a sloped roof.

 The Ugly – Below you can read about ten of the most common and sometimes ugly sources of problems that lead to premature commercial roof deterioration.

As a roof ages, some problems are inevitable, but if you know what to look for, you will be able to prevent conditions that can lead to expensive commercial roof repairs or premature roof replacement.

Ponding Water Page Best


No matter what type of roof you have, leaks can happen and when they do, they can significantly damage the roof structure, the building and the contents within the building, unless quickly identified and repaired. There are many sources of leaks, especially on commercial flat roofs – not always originating with the roof itself.

Most leaks on BUR flat roof systems originate at flashings (where the roof membrane is terminated or interrupted).

Hot asphalt and torch-applied modified bitumen roofs may experience leaks when a proper moisture barrier is not installed underneath edge metal and wall copings.

When single-ply membrane roofs are installed with poor seams, leaks can occur. The membranes themselves will hold water, however improperly sealed seams can leak. Proper procedure for your professional roofing company is to check every inch of lap with a probe at the end of each day in order to assure there are absolutely no voids.


A faulty installation dramatically increases the likelihood of problems and reduces a roof system’s life expectancy. Problems with adhesion can result when the area isn’t cleaned, dried, and primed properly prior to installation. These are the types of problems that are difficult to see but could lead to future problems, accelerated aging, or premature failure.

Material preparation is important to a quality installation. Torch-applied mod bit system performance can be compromised if crews do not relax the sheets prior to installation, resulting in blistering, wrinkles, fish mouths, and leaks. Always hire a professional roofing company that is experienced at installing the particular type of roof system you are planning to use on your buildings.


Flashing that is not attached correctly will not only be a source for leaks, open seams and laps will ultimately cause blow-offs, reduced puncture resistance, and code issues, advises C.A.R.E.

Poor gravel embedment and an inadequate number of fasteners in the base sheet during application of both hot bituminous and torch-applied mod bit roof systems can also cause uplifts and blow-offs.

To prevent wind uplift, seams made with cold adhesives must be cured adequately to insure their integrity on cold-applied mod bit roof systems. If the seams are exposed to wind or rain before they are properly cured, moisture can infiltrate the roof system or wind uplift can damage the roof membrane.

Single-ply roofs can also be at risk for blow-off and billowing if not adhered properly to the substrate.


It is never a good idea to let water accumulate on your roof. Before roof repairs are hastily ordered, the source of the ponding water should be thoroughly investigated. A rule of thumb in the roofing industry is “ponding water should not remain on the roof over 48 hours”. Ponding water can be reduced by either adding additional drains, re-sloping the substrate, or in certain cases the substrate can be leveled by adding cement based leveling material.


Foot traffic by tradesmen, construction on the roof or installation of equipment after the roof is installed can cause punctures or tears. YOur commercial roof systems’ performance is compromised when new equipment and penetrations are added to an existing roof, unless proper precautions are taken. In addition to leaks, damage caused by foot traffic can cause deterioration of the roof membrane and may void the warranty. It is a good idea to limit traffic and conduct inspections after tradespeople have been on the roof.


Tenant improvements (TI) either authorized or unauthorized by the building owner or manager is a major concern unless a professional roofing contractor is involved. Many contractors keep their costs lower by utilizing unlicensed roofer or one of their laborers to seal around new roof penetrations. This situation generally produces a leaky roof.


It is critical that the correct materials for roof repairs are used. Using materials that are not intended for application on your specific roof type can result in permanent damage to the roof. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use and take note of repair products with a shelf life.


All roofs and rain gutters should be clear of leaves, trash and debris a minimum of once per year. A roof inspection should be performed at the same time with a report to the owner or property manager to give them the information they need to head off problems. Being wise to problems can prevent their escalation.



New Flat Commercial Roofing Systems

What Every Property Manager and Commercial Building Owner Needs to Know When Purchasing a New Flat Roofing System.

Title 24 Roof by Sully-Jones Escondido, CA

Polara Roof at the Civic Center Plaza, Escondido, CA

Are you considering a new roof for your commercial building? How much do you know about flat roofing systems? Read further to make sure that you are armed with the information you need to ask the right questions and insure that you are getting the right system for your commercial roof.

Because commercial flat roofs do not fully slope rainwater away, the way that a pitched roof would, it is critical that the flat roofing system installed be watertight in order to prevent damage to the roof, the building and it’s contents. There are different types of flat roofing systems, each with specific benefits:

TPO, Thermo Plastic Olefin is a vinyl based, single ply roofing membrane in the moderate cost range and are pretty much a maintenance free roofing system.

BUR – Built Up Roof Membrane roofs are built with three or more plies of reinforcing membrane alternated with hot tar then covered with a layer of gravel, granule surfacing or a smooth coating.

KEE – Ketone Ethylene Ester incorporates a unique plasticizer that keeps the material indefinitely flexible.

PVC – Poly Vinyl Chloride is vinyl based single ply roofing membrane that can be fully adhered or mechanically attached.

Polara® – Polyester Reinforced Built-up Roofing System is similar to the asphalt fiberglass roofing system but polyester is much stronger than fiberglass so fewer layers are needed. The result is less weight on the structure and increased overall strength in the roofing system. This system can be installed over high-stress roof structures that cause normal roofing systems to split and tear.

If you are replacing a flat roof, have a roof inspection and identify which type of roof is currently installed. If you are planning a new build, consult with a professional roofing company to identify the right roofing system for the building’s design, intended use, environment and budget.


  1. Ask for the Manufacturers Warranty. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous contractors bidding on projects regularly include a 15-year warranty in their contract but deliver a 10 or 12-year material. Ask that the contractor supply you with the warranty documentation supplied by the manufacturer of the materials you have in your contract then check to make sure that the brand name is matched to the material quoted on the contract.
  2. Ask the contractor if they are “Manufacturer’s Certified Installers” of the materials they are specifying. You would be stunned to find out how few of the roofing contractors bidding on the job are certified to install the specified materials. If the roofing contractor warranties their workmanship, ask them to provide it in writing and include wording that the roofing system and all flashings are installed to the manufacturers specifications.  Manufacturers want to know that their materials are installed correctly so they offer certification programs. Certification means that the contractor meets the standards set by the manufacturer, has had his work inspected regularly and that the manufacturer of the materials validates that this contractor knows how to perform all of the detail work as specified by the manufacturer. If the materials are not installed per the manufacturer’s specifications, the warranty will likely be void. By hiring a professional roofing company that is certified by the major roofing materials manufacturers, you can be assured that your roof is installed correctly and is protected by the manufacturers warranty.
  3. Ask the roofing contractor if they provide a warranty on their workmanship. Some, but definitely not all, offer warranties on workmanship. You want to hire a roofing company that stands behind their work. Some roofing contractors, like Sully-Jones Roofing, will even offer an extended warranty when you sign up for a regular roof maintenance program. We highly recommend that you have a roof maintenance program in place for your new roof. Studies have shown that roof life is substantially extended when properly maintained.
  4. Ask what the roofing contractor’s policies are if a leak or defect is found. If you find problems in workmanship or experience leaking, the roofing contractor should respond within 24 hours. You may want to add verbiage that specifies that if you do not get a response within 24 hours that you can contact another contractor to make the repairs to correct deficiencies in workmanship or to stop leaking, reimbursable by the installing company.
  5. Ask about Title 24 requirements. Many, but not all, commercial roofs must meet Title 24 Cool Roof requirements.

Today, TPO is one of the most popular roofing systems for reducing energy costs, especially in warm climates. White or light colored thermoplastic roof membranes offers superior solar reflectivity and provides exceptional tensile strength with a high level of puncture resistance. Since it offers both energy efficiency and low maintenance benefits, white TPO is one of the most durable and cost-effective solutions for both new commercial roofs and commercial re-roofing projects.

BUR roofs can be coated with a reflective coating to block the sun’s UV rays. This is an asphalt base coating that has a light pigment in it to block the sun’s UV rays from wearing out the material. This coating should be applied at a rate of 75 s/f per gallon. Ask the contractor at what rate he will apply the coating. Check to see that the contractor has delivered enough coating to apply to the system properly. If it is not applied at the specified thickness, the coating will not last for the life of the roof.

Sully-Jones Roofing is known as San Diego’s Flat Roof Expert. We are proud of our reputation for honesty, integrity and service. Clients include Southern California’s leading commercial, HOA and portent property owners and managers. See a list of our happy clients.

 Contact Us for a FREE Inspection and Estimate.

Commercial Roofing San Diego – Recover or Replace?

WhiteRoofCropSan Diego’s building owners and facility management executives know that with regular inspections and roof maintenance, their commercial roofing systems can protect their buildings for decades – but eventually, there comes a time when even a well maintained roof will need to be replaced.

So how do you know whether you need to replace your commercial roof, or can repair or recover?

The first step to determining how much more life you can get out of your existing commercial roof is to have a roofing professional conduct a careful, detailed evaluation of your existing roof. They will take into consideration the weather/climate implications of your geographic region, the age of the existing roof, impacts on business activities, and your long-term plans for the building your roof is protecting. Then they will inspect for damage to your roofing membrane, insulation and roof decking.

 A Roofing Professional Will Inspect for:

  • Moisture infiltration and resulting damage
  • Slippage, movement or splitting of the roofing membrane
  • Age, overall condition and pliability of the roof membrane
  • Structure integrity of the roof decking


Whether you plan to repair, recover or replace your commercial roof, an inspection for the presence of moisture below the roofing membrane is critical. Your roof inspector will ask about previous incidences and severity of roof leaks. They will closely inspect the roof for any evidence of moisture. The membrane may appear to be in good condition on the surface but there may be the presence of moisture below the roofing membrane. Whether from tears or penetrations of the membrane itself or from other sources, moisture will create problems that compromise the integrity of the roof. Wet insulation, wood blocking and gypsum will deteriorate the roofing membrane, cause structural damage to the roof deck and may lead to further problems, such as mold growth and expensive mold remediation.

If the subsurface moisture is extensive, 30 to 35 percent or more of the entire roof area, it may be more practical and cost effective to remove the entire roof system and replace it rather than attempting to recover. If the areas affected are somewhat isolated, you may be able to put off a complete roof replacement but all wet insulation and materials must be removed and replaced prior to repairing or recovering an existing roof.


Another determining factor that will influence your decision to recover or reroof is the roof cover’s ability to withstand the uplift pressures associated with severe wind. Roof cover performance can be measured by conducting an uplift test in the field, perimeter, and on corners of the roof.

Uplift tests are useful to help determine a roof cover’s ability to stay intact during severe winds. Though the roof may look like it has weathered the storm, a time or two, exposure to uplift forces could weaken the roofs ability to resist uplift pressures during the next big storm.

Local building codes provide the minimum acceptable standards for roof strength. While a roof cover system may have 20 year warranty, often consumers are not aware that most roof warranties will not cover damages as a result of named storms, wind speeds over 74 mph (or sometimes less), wind damage, acts of God, hail, etc. Conditions where the warranty is voided are typically listed in the “Exclusions” part of the warranty. If damage is caused by any of the exclusions listed, the building owner’s deductible and insurance company may not cover the cost to repair or replace the roof cover. Some companies do offer warranties that include windstorm damage, but it is not standard practice and will often cost extra.

Should your roof qualify for a roof repair or recover, the project should include securing existing roof cover to the deck below before recovering.

 Age and Condition of the Roof System

Another factor influencing whether or not a recover project is feasible is establishing how many roof systems or layers are currently in place, which requires making inspection openings. Most modern building codes allow a maximum of two non-ballasted roof systems on a structure, mostly due to the weight associated with the roofing materials. Other code-related issues include fire resistance, which the building’s insurance carrier may also influence through specific requirements.

The length of the warranty required for the new roof also needs to be considered, because many roofing material manufacturers will limit the duration for the warranty available on recover projects. Commercial Roofing Contractors will often offer warranties on workmanship and extended warranties on materials. See Sully-Jones Extended Warranty.

 Roof Decking

When considering whether to recover or re-roof your commercial roofing system, it is critical to have the roof decking system inspected. If significant damage to the decking is found, you will have no choice but to tear off and re-roof.

Recovering Pros and Cons

Cons – There is a risk of trapping moisture beneath the new roofing surface, which will continue to deteriorate insulation and roof decking. Trapped moisture can also lead to mold and costly mold remediation.

Pros – Recovering is less expensive than roof replacement. There are no tear-off and disposal fees. Recovering can help you extend the life and cost effectiveness of your existing roof. See our post about flat roof covering options. 

Replacement Pros and Cons

Cons – Costs are higher than roof repair or recovering. It will take longer to complete the work.

Pros – There have been many advancements made in roofing materials. You will have a completely new roof that complies with current building codes and will stand the test of time – often longer than the warranty.

If you are unsure whether your roof can be repaired or recovered, or if you are in need of a roof replacement, contact Sully-Jones Roofing, San Diego’s flat roof experts.


Benefits of a White TPO Cool Roof

TPO Roofing System

If you have been considering a cool roof for your Commercial Building Roofs you have probably come across the term “TPO” which is the acronym for Thermoplastic Polyolefin. Introduced in the early 1990’s, TPO offered solutions for property owners and facility managers that were experiencing increased energy costs. In 2001, TPO represented just 10% of the commercial roofing market. Today, TPO is one of the most popular roofing systems for reducing energy costs, especially in warm climates. White or light colored thermoplastic roof membranes provide exceptional tensile strength with a high level of puncture resistance and offer superior solar reflectivity. Since it offers both energy efficiency and low maintenance benefits, white TPO is one of the most durable and cost-effective solutions for both new commercial roofs and commercial re-roofing projects.

Go Green

It just makes sense that when your commercial roof is cooler, the interior of your building remains cooler. A white TPO roof reflects the sun’s harsh rays instead of absorbing them, as is the case with a tar or other dark roof. You will spend less money maintaining consistent temperatures inside your buildings during hot months. White TPO meets and often exceeds the U.S. Environmental Agency’s ENERGY STAR specifications and California’s Title 24 requirements. A TPO roof is also 100% recyclable and can help you meet LEED point objectives.

 Size Matters

Wide-width TPO membrane provides a cleaner and smoother roof surface than many other types of commercial roofing systems. The smooth surface makes it more efficient at resisting dirt and debris build-up and the wider membranes can reduce installation time. TPO roofing systems can be mechanically attached or fully adhered. Heat welding a TPO roofing system will create an impermeable surface for better seam strength, leak barrier and wind uplift resistance.

 Stick With Thick

TPO Thermoplastic membrane is available in a variety of thicknesses ranging from 45mil. to 80mil. Your upfront costs will be a little higher for a thicker membrane but can save you money in the long run with less damage repair and improved energy savings. A thicker TPO membrane layer provides a strong, dense shield that blocks nearly all UV rays and is more resistant to damage.

 Hire a Commercial Roofing Expert

Improper welding is a common cause of Thermoplastic polyolefin membrane failure so it is essential that you choose a professional commercial roofing contractor with experience installing TPO roofing systems. Qualified contractors will hold certifications from the major TPO manufacturers, letting you know that these are contractors you can trust for quality installation. Great commercial roofing contractors will also provide warranties on their workmanship. Sully-Jones Roofing is San Diego’s Flat Roof Expert and is experienced in installing all major brands of TPO roofing systems. Sully-Jones  is San Diego’s flat roofing expert.  Contact us to find out if TPO is the right commercial roofing system for your properties.

Flat Roof Repair and Maintenance San Diego, CA

Commercial Flat Roof Systems Present Unique Problems

Many businesses have flat roof systems to accommodate HVAC units, solar panels, vents and other protrusions in the roof for much needed mechanical equipment. While flat roofing systems are ideal for accommodating all of the devices your business needs to operate, they also present some unique issues. Even in sunny San Diego, CA you are likely to require flat roof repair and maintenance.

Why Do Flat Roofs Have Often Overlooked Issues?

Flat Roof Repair and Maintenance

Equipment and other protrusions in flat roof can be a source of leaks.

Unlike slanted roofs, which can naturally slough of debris and water, flat roofs will collect water and debris if drainage is not properly designed or becomes obstructed. One particular problem with flat roof systems is if water pools or penetrates the barrier covering. Water can travel a long way before causing visible damage or leaking into a building where it can be seen. Damage can often go unnoticed for long periods of time during which water penetrates and soaks the decking and any insulation or structure beneath it. This can lead to expensive damage from the rot. And, once the underlying roof decking is soaked, it could sag, causing a further collection of  water.

Ponding Water

Standing water on flat roofs is a common problem known as Ponding Water. Low slope and flat roofs contain membranes that are meant to be water-impermeable. If

Ponding Water on Flat Roofs.

Ponding water can compromise the entire structure.

water is left standing on the roof, it will force its way into even the tiniest holes to compromise the integrity of your roof. Water that penetrates the protective membrane can cause rot, which if left unattended, can weaken the entire roof structure. There are also various health risks to people and animals breathing the mold spores that often occur when wood rots.

Also remember that water is heavy, so if a significant amount of water accumulates on your roof, it will add stress to the entire structure.

We don’t get a lot of rain in San Diego, so you may not be too worried about ponding water. Weather is not always the cause of ponding water. Unless you regularly head up to the roof, you may not even notice pools of water on your roof.

While a properly maintained roof can last about 20 years, ponding water will significantly reduce the lifespan of your roof.

Improper Drainage

If your commercial roof was not properly designed for drainage, you may also find ponding water. You may need to re-level your roof to eliminate low areas that collect water.   Sully-Jones Roofing has developed a leveling compound (SJ-Leveler) that can be applied below or on top of an existing roof to improve the drainage of flat roofs. SJ-Leveler consists of a combination of cement, silica, and special resin binders and can be surfaced with ceramic granules or gravel to match existing roof surfaces.


Leaves, moss, or even trash can accumulate on your flat roof to obstruct drainage.  When there is build up on your roof, the roofing materials underneath will begin to suffer over time. Moisture, and clogged water drains on a flat roof system can lead to membrane damage, fungal growth, and destruction of reflective coatings. Degradation of your flat roofing system will only get worse over time.

Regular maintenance for your flat roof to remove debris and unclog drains will significantly extend the life of your flat roofing system.

Sun Damage

protective Coatings for Flat Roofs

Protective Coatings Extend the Life of Commercial Flat Roofs and Reduce Energy Costs.

We see more sunny days in San Diego than most of the country and this can cause damage to your flat roof over time. The sun can break down the sealants on your roof that protect it against leaks.  Protective coatings can improve the appearance of your flat roof while offering additional protection from the suns rays. Title 24 regulations require most commercial roofs in California to be coated with a reflective coating that will not only protect your roof from the suns damage but will reduce energy use by keeping your building cooler. Title 24 coatings can reflect up to 90% if the suns heat and result in significant savings on air conditioning. Read more about T-24 coatings.

HVAC Leaks

An often overlooked source of water leaks on flat roofs are the sheet metal seams of AC ducts and plenums. Due to the overwhelming number of leaks originating from improperly designed filter doors and improperly sealed AC duct joints, Sully-Jones established a duct joint sealing service.

Mechanical contractors typically use a cheap and easy way to seal HVAC duct joints. They simply apply elastomeric sealants, which will last 6 months to 2 years. Sully-Jones uses the older and more reliable method of sealing with lagging adhesive, reinforced with cotton fabric (lagging tape). Properly sealed duct joints should last a minimum of 8-10 years.

Flat Roofs Require Periodic Inspections

Regular inspections and maintenance can extend the life of your roof by up to 30%. Identifying and resolving problems before significant damage is done to your flat roofing system will save you real money on repairs. You can avoid disruption to your business caused by roof leaks by catching potential sources of problems before  leaks occur. And you can lower your energy costs with regular flat roof repair and maintenance.

Read more about affordable Flat Roof Repair and Maintenance Programs for San Diego Commercial Roofing customers.

With over 30 years serving Souther California’s commercial roofing needs, Sully-Jones has become well known as San Diego’s Flat Roof Experts. If you have any questions, we are here to help you. Please take advantage of our offer for a FREE inspection and Estimate. 

Free Inspection and Estimate, Sully-Jones Roofing

Get a FREE Inspection and Estimate from Sully-Jones Commercial Roofing, San Diego, CA

The Dangers of Torch Down Roofing

Flat Roof Systems

Oceanside Duplex Fire

UNION TRIBUNE – Oceanside firefighters extinguish a fire at garage – photo courtesy of Oceanside Fire


Torch Down Roofing is a type of roofing that consists of levels of modified bitumen–similar to asphalt, that are adhered to layers of fiberglass with a flame torch. Torch Down Roofing is used only for flat or low-slope roofs.

Torch Down Roofing is popular with many contractors in Southern California, mainly because of its ease of installation and its adaptability.   Some CA roofers use this system because the modified bitumen can bond tightly to metal flashings and the bond rubbery additives in the asphalt allow the roofing to expand and contract, where other roofing systems may crack.  CA roofers like that Torch Down Roofing is easy to apply – but it is also dangerous!

It is extremely easy to make a mistake with the torch that will result in disaster.  Consider roofers that are torching down a roof and accidently overheat something in the attic. They end their work for the day and don’t notice the smoldering smoke coming out of the soffit vents. Before long, that smoldering material in the attic heats up and starts a fire that is quickly spread throughout the dry, hot attic area and often to the entire structure.  We have seen too many disasters with Torch Down Roofing that resulted destruction of property.


Alternatives to Torch Down Roofing

There are many different types of flat roofing systems that will better meet your needs without posing a danger to your entire structure. Some types of flat roofing systems are applied with an adhesive, while other types are self-adhering or are hot mopped, as with cap sheet, in built-up roofing systems.  Learn more about the best solutions for flat and low slope roofs.

Below are many examples of fires that are a direct result of Torch Down Roofing, right here in San Diego.  Please read these cautionary tales before investing in a torch down roof.

Two Escape City Heights Apartment Fire

By  Kristina Davis       1:54 p.m.       Dec. 11, 2012

City Heights Apartment

San Diego firefighters extinguish a roof fire in City Heights


SAN DIEGO — A torch that may have been left unattended caught roofing materials on fire at a City Heights apartment building Tuesday, San Diego fire officials said.

The blaze was reported about 1 p.m. at the two-story building on 47th Street near University Avenue. Roofing materials that were being used to install solar panels caught fire, said San Diego fire spokesman Maurice Luque.

A woman and her 2-year-old daughter were inside an apartment and escaped. The smoke exacerbated the woman’s asthma, and she was treated by paramedics at the scene.

Firefighters knocked down the flames within 10 minutes, containing the fire to the roof, Luque. The apartment below suffered only minor water damage.

No other apartments or adjacent businesses were damaged.


Roofers Sparked Carlsbad Condo Blaze

By Teri Figueroa     3 p.m.     Oct. 25, 2012

CARLSBAD — A Carlsbad condominium fire Wednesday that displaced about 100 people was accidently sparked by workers heating up tar on the roof of the building, a city spokeswoman said Thursday.

The three-alarm blaze on Hosp Way, on the west side of El Camino Real, damaged eight units and left other condos with water or smoke damage, Carlsbad city spokeswoman Kristina Ray said.

Aside from damage to some condos, authorities had to cut utilities to a total of 36 units, she said, adding that it was unclear when residents would be able to return to their homes.

Inside one of the condos, authorities found a small marijuana garden, but it was determined to have been legal and for medicinal use, she said.

It took fire crews about an hour and 15 minutes to control the blaze.


Oceanside Duplex Fire Put Out

By Jose Luis Jiménez

OCEANSIDE — A fire at a duplex on South Vista Campana near Vista Oceana was quickly extinguished Tuesday evening, said Oceanside fire Battalion Chief Peter Lawrence.

The blaze was reported about 5:40 p.m., and the first firefighters to arrive reported seeing light smoke coming from the roof. The fire was under control about 15 minutes later. No one was hurt, but at least three residents will have to find somewhere else to spend the night, Lawrence said.

The fire was mostly contained to a single-car garage attached to the duplex, with some flames reaching an adjacent bedroom, Lawrence said.

The flames were ignited when roofers earlier in the day used a blow torch to heat roofing materials, Lawrence said. Some wood on the roof was inadvertently set on fire and pieces fell into the garage below, igniting household chemicals, Lawrence said.

Damage was estimated at $72,000, including $22,000 damage to a 2010 Ford Flex parked in the garage.


Fire in Old San Diego Building Started by Accident

By The Associated Press 9:58 a.m.July 7, 2011

SAN DIEGO — Investigators say workers putting a new roof on a San Diego restaurant accidentally started a fire in an adjacent 100-year-old building, causing about $1 million damage.

More than 100 firefighters battled the 3 p.m. fire Wednesday in a three-story wooden building in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood.

Fire-Rescue spokesman Maurice Luque (loo-KAY’) told the San Diego Union-Tribune the fire was accidentally started by workers using a torch to put a new roof on the adjacent restaurant.

Luque says 12 of the 15 apartments on the second and third floors were occupied, but all residents got out safely. Two businesses on the first floor had structural and water damage.

Luque says because the building is so old, it has no fire stops in its hollow walls, making the fire more intense.


San Ysidro Apartment Fire Prompts Two-Alarm Response

By Greg Gross  6:58 p.m.  March 19, 2009

SAN DIEGO – A fire at a San Ysidro apartment building Thursday afternoon prompted a two-alarm response from San Diego and Chula Vista firefighters. The fire was reported about 4:40 p.m. at Palmira Village apartments on West San Ysidro Boulevard near Dairy Mart Road.

A second alarm was called about 10 minutes later after the firefighters who responded found smoke coming from the roof of the two-story complex. However, an initial check of the apartments found no fire in any of the units, said Capt. Daniel Reeves of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

About 30 firefighters responded.

“It was a roof fire, not that big,” Reeves said.

Flammable materials left behind by workers may have started the blaze, he said.

“Some of the residents were saying there were some roofers up there earlier, using torches,” Reeves said. At least two apartments were damaged by water used to put out the roof fire. Firefighters also pulled down walls and ceilings in some units to make sure that no fire spread into the building, Reeves said. An initial damage estimate was $100,000.


Torch Down Roofing Fire in Hillcrest, CA

More than 110 firefighters battled a three-alarm blaze Wednesday at a three-story wooden building in Hillcrest that the owner said was about 100 years old.

Damage was estimated at $1 million to the building and contents, said Maurice Luque, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman. The fire was accidentally started by workers using a torch to put a new roof on the adjacent Buonissimo2 restaurant, Luque said.

The fire was reported about 3 p.m. at the building on University Avenue between Vermont Street and 10th Avenue that houses two businesses on the ground floor and apartments on the top two floors, Luque said.

Firefighters tried to fight the blaze inside the building for the first 20 minutes but had to pull out due to the intense flames and heavy smoke, Luque said. Even several hours into the incident, some flames could be seen sporadically breaking out on the upper floors.

The older building did not have fire stops in the hollow walls, explaining why the fire was burning so quickly and intensely, Luque said.

Among those watching the firefighters was George Degenhart, who said he has owned the building since 1976. He said the structure is “close to 100 years old.”

Three ladder trucks poured 900 gallons of water per minute on the inferno. Water gushed out of the apartment windows on the second and third floors.  There are a total of 15 apartments on the second and third floors, 12 of which were occupied, Luque said. All residents who were home at the time got out safely.  The businesses on the first floor – Torreon Importers and Obelisk, a book and gift store – had structural and water damage, Luque said.

Dozens of people lined the block across the street, at a commercial center anchored by a Ralphs grocery store and Pick Up Stix restaurant, to watch the firefighters. Many were taking pictures or video with their cellphones.  Smoke initially billowed down University Avenue as the firefighters poured water on the flames. At one point, the smoke was so thick that buildings a half-block away near 10th Avenue were totally obscured.

Jesus Plasencia, a stylist at Haircut Boulevard near Ralphs, said he was looking outside and saw the initial flames. “Within seconds, the flames were really high,” he said. “It just took off.”

The response included 14 engines and six trucks, Luque said. No firefighters were injured. The Red Cross was providing temporary housing assistance for the displaced residents.

Sully-Jones Roofing offers many commercial roofing options to avoid  the dangers of torch down roofing. To find out more about flat and low slope roofing systems, click here.