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Fire scorches, closes North Auburn smoothie business

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A North Auburn smoothie maker is closed and 15 employees are temporarily out of work after a fire Saturday morning at the business. Jamba Juice, located in the Auburn Village Shopping Center on Highway 49 at Atwood Road, sustained smoke, fire and heat damage. A Cal Fire spokesperson said the initial call came just after 7:30 a.m. from a Jamba Juice employee reporting that a juice machine was on fire. Firefighters arriving on the scene were confronted with a smoke-filled business space before extinguishing the fire and keeping it from spreading to the adjoining La Bou restaurant. Trisha Williams, Jamba Juice general manager, stood with a group of employees who would have normally started their shifts that morning preparing cold drinks on an 80-degrees-plus day. The business had not opened for the day when the fire occurred, she said. Instead, they’ll wait for corporate headquarters in Emeryville to repair the fire and smoke-damaged interior. Williams said she couldn’t guess on how long that would be. Five engines arrived on the scene to contain the fire and stop it from spreading from a building that contains the two businesses and sits across the street from the Bel Air supermarket in the shopping center. Cal Fire Public Information Officer Chelsea Fox said that while the cause was under investigation, all signs pointed to a fire in the juice machine. La Bou was closed Saturday morning and owner-manager Arlene Be said she hoped the restaurant would be back in business again by Sunday. La Bou baker Lynn Quigley said he’d been baking in the morning and was nearing completion of the day’s production when he smelled smoke. “I smelled something burning and ran around the building with my cell phone,” he said. “Black smoke was pouring out.” Employees shooed customers out with smoke beginning to enter the restaurant. Be said a health inspector was expected to clear the eatery for re-opening but that any products inside the store would likely have to be thrown out because of the smoke and disconnection of electricity. “We’re thankful there was no structural damage but it’s very sad for Jamba Juice,” Be said. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.