Oceanside CA– Just before 2:00pm, Friday October 17, 2014, the Oceanside Fire and Police Departments responded to reports of an apartment fire at the Oceana Apartment complex, 180 Canyon Drive.
A second alarm was quickly added as responders were able to see smoke from the fire at a distance. The first two people on the scene were Oceanside Police motor-officers Duane Schott and Justin Willms who were on a traffic stop near by.
“There was heavy smoke coming out from under the eaves when we arrived and one unit was fully engulfed in fire” said Officer Schott. The officers began knocking on doors to evacuate the residents. “I was knocking on one door when the window blew out behind me. The fire escalated quickly.” recounted Officer Willms ” We knocked on every door but everybody had pretty much self-evacuated.”
Lt. Valencia Saadat said there were two children in the apartment where the fire started. The mother had just left to retrieve clothes from the laundry room adjacent to the building. The two children, an 8 year-old girl and a 9 year-old boy, told Lt. Saadat that they heard the smoke detector, then saw flames and left the apartment immediately. The two told the Lieutenant that they learned what to do, in case of fire, from fire drills at school.
Firefighters from Carlsbad and Vista joined with the Oceanside Firefighters in attacking the blaze through the dense smoke rising from the two story structure. Firefighters attacked the fire in the initial upstairs unit along with the adjacent apartments while more firefighters ventilated the roof.
Firefighters knocked the initial blaze down quickly and had the incident under control in approximately thirty minutes. Damage was contained to the one building of the 10 building complex.
Oceanside Battalion Chief, Bill Kogerman said the fire started in the kitchen of one of the units, and that unit was completely destroyed. Several adjoining units were also damaged.
The Chief placed the number of people displaced at over twenty but that number was expected to increase as people return home throughout the afternoon. The Red Cross is assisting the residents displaced by the fire.
Chief Kogerman gave a preliminary damage estimate of $200,000. There were no reports of injuries. Residents who were evacuated from nearby buildings were slowly being allowed to return home.