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December 20, 2010 (Spring Valley)- -San Miguel firefighters used a 100-foot ladder truck to access a third story roof, cutting ventilation holes to control a raging condominium fire that threatened multiple units in the 3000 block of Charwood Drive in Spring Valley just before 4 a.m.


Five people were inside the unit when the fire began. One occupant told investigators he was trying to light the fireplace when the lighter flame ignited and there was was a swift explosion, as a ball of flame and embers shot out onto the area rug.

The man said he tried to roll up the rug and throw it outside on the second floor balcony, but instead it hit another man, causing significant leg burns to the occupant, who was transported to a hospital by his sister.

Another resident pounded on the doors of his immediate neighbors, triggering the evacuation of the three other units under the one roof.

“Four units were at immediate risk, but the swift attack kept the fire damage to a single unit,”
San Miguel Fire spokesman Leonard Villareal said. San Miguel Truck 15 under the command of Captain Justin Fuller used the ventilation holes to reduce the interior heat and direct the fire upwards away from three other units. “Firefighters say the flames were so intense that the living room area looked much like a moonscape,” added Villareal.

The official cause of the fire is under investigation. Because of the potential dollar loss the Sheriff’s Arson/Bomb team was brought in to conduct the investigation. One area of investigation will be the possible use of accelerants.

The Red Cross has been called in to assist residents with lodging and clothing. Damage is estimated at $250,000 structure and $50,000 contents. The fire was contained to the one unit; the other three units suffered some degree of smoke and water damage.