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Smoke alarm alerted resident to blaze


October 31, 2009 (El Cajon)—The Sheriff’s Bomb & Arson squad was dispatched Saturday after cases of ammunition were found in an El Cajon house fire started by Halloween decorations inadvertently left on a stove.


Members of the San Miguel Fire District responded Saturday morning to a structure fire on 1124 Random Road, in an unincorporated area of El Cajon. The fire was reported at 11:35 AM. On scene, firefighters found a two-unit “granny flat” type structure ablaze.


According to residents the previous owners had used the units as rentals, however currently both units were for storage only. Residents say the female occupant of the home had gone into the structure to remove some Halloween decorations. While moving boxes she told investigators she placed a box on top of a small stove and apparently, accidently, bumped the on switch. She left the unit with another box and was unaware of any problems until a smoke alarm sounded.


Once on scene firefighters were told two cases of ammunition and black gunpowder, for reloading, were also stored in the unit where the fire started. The threat of rounds popping off and the gunpowder exploding required firefighters to mount an external attack on structure. Crews did not make entry until the flames had been knocked down. It took crews about 40 minutes to eliminate all threats. No injuries were reported. The owners primary residence was not damaged, however two cars, including a 1965 Mustang convertible did sustain heat damage.


The investigation will continue. As of yet there is no estimated structure and content dollar loss. Crews from El Cajon and La Mesa assisted in containing the fire.


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