Contra Costa Co. (KRON/BCN) — A three-alarm fire that displaced 36 people and injured two residents Monday morning at an apartment building in Rodeo caused around $500,000 in damage, according to fire officials on Tuesday.
Three apartment units were destroyed in the blaze, which started at 8:57 a.m. at a 20-unit apartment building at 601 San Pablo Ave., according to the Rodeo-Hercules Fire District.
When firefighters initially arrived at the scene, they found smoke coming from a downstairs unit of the two-story apartment building and a fire burning inside, according to fire officials.
Attacking the blaze was made difficult by an “extreme accumulation” of papers and other personal belongings in the unit, fire officials said.
The two residents of the unit where the fire originated were home at the time. They had to be helped out of their apartment by a neighbor and an off-duty Crockett-Carquinez Fire Protection District firefighter because of all the clutter, fire officials said.
The two residents both suffered smoke inhalation injuries and were taken to a hospital.
All of the other residents of the apartment building evacuated without injury. Thirty-six residents in all were displaced by the blaze and were assisted by the American Red Cross.
Firefighters rescued several birds and a cat from one of the adjacent apartments, but another cat was found dead, fire officials said.
The unit’s accumulated materials apparently caused the flames to spread rapidly. It became a three-alarm fire that diverted more than 50 fire personnel from various agencies before it was extinguished.
It took about an hour for the crews to control the fire. It was contained to the apartment of origin and two second-floor units located
directly above it, fire officials said.
The other 17 units were not significantly damaged. The blaze also threatened an adjacent apartment building but the responding crews prevented that building from sustaining damage, fire officials said.
Fire officials said the cause of the blaze remains undetermined, but it was not being considered suspicious and was likely accidental in nature.
The Rodeo-Hercules Fire District is warning residents about the fire dangers presented by allowing an excessive amount of materials to accumulate in a residence like the one that burned Monday.