By Jonathan Goetz and Miriam Raftery
Photo: Jerald Western
December 9, 2019 (Bostonia) – A condominium fire at the Bradley Condos in the Bostonia community has displaced 23 residents and damaged nine units, according to Lakeside Fire Battalion Chief Andy Lawler. The complex is located just east of Highway 67 and one exit north of Interstate 8. There is a fire station adjacent to the gated community, and it was sprinkling rain around the time.
The first firefighters on the scene from San Miguel Fire & Rescue saw light smoke and believe the fire started between walls, quickly spreading to adjacent units and the roof, ECM news partner 10 News reports. Firefighters from Lakeside, Santee and Heartland also provided mutual aid response.
After dark, lights were off in 12 units, many housing families. It is unclear if the estimated number of evacuees included only the nine damaged units or also the three affected by electricity and water shut-off.
Photo: Gerald Stevenson
This lower unit is where the fire is believed to have started.
Lissa Cota, who lives on the west side of the building downstairs, next door to where the fire started, told ECM, "Our water was off since 2:30. At 3:00 I messaged my landlord and videoed my sink dripping filling up a tub, and I heard a bunch of commotion of 'fire!' and then I had ran around outside and went back inside and got my dish water and my gallon of water and then see the guy was inside the wall using his towels or anything to put out the fire and his friend threw my dish water on it. My neighbor, the other guy; he grabbed the water from his stove and actually slipped and he said he fell on his side. Red Cross gave us a debit card so we're good for 3 days; but it's supposed to be a couple weeks. I didn't see a fire but there was smoke and flooding in the house. I came out with my socks all wet. It was a mess. I've gotta check; I don't think anyone used the fire extinguisher."
Another neighbor, A. Best, guessed it started in a vacant unit, one of several, being worked on in order to resell. He told us, “I heard about a broken pipe and a lot of water damage, so it wasn't just the fire in the attic. The electricity got shut off and the water had to be shut off, so everybody had to be evacuated. One neighbor was shouting, 'Don't break my door down! Don't break my door down!'"
Chief Lawler told ECM news partner 10 News that the fire may have started when a construction worker was soldering plumbing pipes.
When firefighters first arrived, only a light smoke could be seen. Firefighters believe the fire started between the walls and spread quickly from there, into other units and up to the roof.
One neighbor told ECM he suspected the fire started around “3 p.m. or so,” and noticed the trouble when he heard firemen breaking down doors. Another tells our readers, “I can tell from my text messages I walked by at 3:10 or 3:11, and I didn't notice anything unusual (on the east side of the building- the fire started on the west side). Strangely enough, at 2:53, I texted my buddies, 'Help! I need to get out of the house!' and then found out that evening I got out just in time to avoid all the commotion.”
There were no deaths, however one man reportedly suffered burned hands before the blaze was extinguished. ECM observed an inspector checking on the building with a flashlight to ensure the fire had not reflamed.
As soon as the fire trucks pulled out, the Red Cross van pulled in, and assisted the evacuees.
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