Oceanside CA— On Sunday, January 15, 2017, shortly before 9:30pm, the occupant of a home in the 5600 block of Boot Way, who had just moved into the residence that day, went out for dinner after a day of unpacking. The resident and her friend came home to the condominium and smelled smoke. Upon opening the front door they encountered heavy black smoke and high heat conditions. Knowing her Chocolate Labrador was still inside, the resident attempted to go in and get him, but was unable to make it inside due to the oppressive conditions. Shortly thereafter, the entire downstairs erupted in flames, forcing them to flee the immediate area. 9-1-1 was called and the Oceanside Fire Department was dispatched at 9:31pm. Heavy smoke and flames from the fire were visible from College and SR-76.
“We arrived seven minutes after dispatch and the first engine on the scene reported heavy smoke and flames coming from the east and rear sides of the unit,” said Oceanside Battalion Chief, Peter Lawrence.
The first crews on scene made their initial attack on the fire through the garage to try and darken down the fire from the outside. They quickly pulled attack lines to the front door and were joined by two additional engine crews who had arrived a couple of minutes behind them. After cooling the fire, they were able to advance hose lines through the fully involved downstairs and into the upstairs portion of the unit. “The fire did lap across the breeze way and into the unit next door to the east so we had fire in the upstairs and attic in that unit.” explained Chief Lawrence. Additional crews arrived and were assigned to ventilate the structure to reduce the heat and gasses, as well as find and attack the fire that had extended through the eves and across the breezeway to the unit on the right hand side of the complex. “The fire was under control about twenty-three minutes after our arrival.”
The unit where the fire originated was completely destroyed by the fire. The fire burned so hot that it burned through the floor joists between the first and second floor, causing a partial collapse to occur inside the unit. The units to the right and left suffered limited smoke and fire damage. The resident of the destroyed unit had just rented the unit and had moved in earlier on Sunday. The resident and her friend had left the house approximately 3 hours earlier and did not notice any smell of smoke or see any signs of trouble when they left.
The deceased dog was recovered by firefighters after the fire was extinguished and turned over to the San Diego Humane Society after the owner was allowed time with the remains. A member of the Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) was on scene to assist the resident. The Red Cross was not needed on this incident as all affected parties were able to make other lodging arrangements.
Seven engines, two trucks, five Chief officers, two ambulances for a total of thirty-six firefighters with mutual aid provided by the Vista Fire Department and North county Fire Department. “A true example of automatic Mutual Aid at work.” said the Battalion Chief.
An Investigator with the Oceanside Fire Department responded to the scene in order to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Based on the volume of fire present upon the initial arrival of the fire department units and given the extensive damage to the floor and walls, it is apparent the fire had burned undetected for some period of time. The Investigator has not completed his investigation at this time.
Damage has been estimated at $250,000, of which $230,000 is assigned to the structure and $20,000 to the contents and furnishings in the three units. Approximately $750,000 worth of additional damage to the four unit complex and contents was prevented by the aggressive work of the responding personnel.