Smoke Detectors Save Lives in Early Morning Fire
January 30, 2012
At 6:30 am Sunday morning, units from the Oceanside Fire Department responded to a report of smoke in a garage at 763 Valley Crest Drive in the Marlado Highlands area of Oceanside. Approximately 5 minutes later, the first fire department units arrived and found heavy smoke and fire showing from a two-car garage attached to a single story, single-family residence. The first firefighters to arrive quickly pulled multiple hose lines in an effort to keep the fire contained to the garage. Due to the volume of fire emanating from the garage, crews were also concerned the fire would spread not only to the inside of the residence, but also to the neighbor’s homes and a travel trailer parked alongside the house. Additional firefighting crews searched the structure to ensure no one was still inside and also climbed onto the roof and cut holes to allow the heat and gasses to escape from the attic. Due to a collapse of the tile roof over the garage, firefighters were not able to gain control of the fire very quickly. It took 25 firefighters nearly 40 minutes to finally bring the fire under control. The garage and a 2002 Honda SUV parked inside were completely destroyed by the fire while the kitchen and dining room areas of the house suffered moderate fire damage. The remainder of the house had heavy smoke damage. However, other than minor damage to the travel trailer and a couple of palm trees, the fire did not extend anywhere outside of the original structure. Numerous aerosol cans exploded in the fire and were found up to 100 feet away from the house. One of the exploding cans narrowly missed one of the firefighters and left a dent in the side of the first arriving ladder truck parked on the street in front of the house.
An investigator from the Oceanside Fire Department responded to the scene in order to determine the cause and origin of the fire. His investigation determined the cause of the fire to be accidental, starting in battery chargers located on a work bench in the garage.
At the time of the fire an adult woman and her 15 year old daughter were asleep in the home. A smoke detector alerted the mother to the fire and she got up to find smoke pushing through the door from the garage to the house. Fortunately, the woman and her daughter immediately evacuated the residence and called 911 from her cell phone and did not try and fight the fire or gather belongings. Both of the occupants successfully made it out of the structure and neither suffered any injuries in the fire.
This is a prime example of the value of working smoke detectors. When firefighters made their initial entry into the residence just six minutes after the fire was first reported, the smoke levels were already down to within two feet of the floor. Had this family not had a working smoke detector to alert them to the fire, the outcome of this incident could have involved fatalities or smoke inhalation injuries to one or both of the occupants. This is a good reminder for people to ensure they have several working smoke detectors in their home and remember to change the batteries each November when the clocks are set back to standard time.
Total damage has been estimated at $250,000. $150,000 has been associated with damage to the structure and the remaining $100,000 accounts for damaged contents in the garage and residence. A total of two adults and one teenager lived in the house. The Red Cross was requested to the scene in order to assist in providing temporary accommodations for the family.
Two Chiefs, two ladder trucks, four engines, one ambulances and one investigator responded to the incident, bringing with them a total of 25 firefighters. Due to the alarm being received just prior to the daily shift change at 7 am, several of the initial arriving units were able to respond with more than the usual complement of firefighters. The last fire unit cleared the scene at 10:30 am, four hours after the initial alarm was received.