White Oaks House Fire: Updated

The badly damaged garage

If you were awakened by the sirens during the night, then you heard the fire department responding to a house fire on St. Francis east of Cedar.

The house was badly damaged and the garage and the cars inside were completely destroyed.

The homeowner – understandably shaken – said the fire started in the garage around 3am and everybody got out safely.

Calling the blaze intense and fast moving, Battalion Chief Tom Mota of the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Dept. said the family was lucky to get out of the house.

Mota said early morning fires are especially worrisome because residents might not wake up in time to escape carbon monoxide poisoning.  Add to that toxic fumes given off by all the plastics found in homes today and it’s a lethal combination.   “If you breathe all that stuff, it can overcome you quickly and put you down fast,” Mota said.

The homeowner, Mota added, saved his wife and two children by investigating a noise in the house, only to discover smoke coming from under the door leading to the garage.  The family went out the back of the house, went over a fence and called 911 from a neighbor’s house.

Battalion Chief Tom Mota says eight engines, two trucks and two battalion chiefs responded.  It took crews 30-minutes to put out the fire, an effort that included locating and shutting off the gas after discovering the fire had sheared off the gas line.

Mota said smoke damage throughout the house, along with damage to important structural elements like joists, means the entire structure will likely need to be taken down to the studs.

The displaced residents are expected to stay with family.  Mota said he was impressed by the number of neighbors who showed up to support the residents.

The cause of the fire – which caused an estimated $500,000 worth of damage – is still under investigation as the Fire Marshall continues to gather evidence.

 

 

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