Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Concord apartment fire fatal for Elderly woman

Elderly woman dies after Concord fire

An elderly woman was killed after she suffered severe burns, and more than a dozen people were displaced in a fire that broke out at an apartment complex Monday afternoon, according to the Contra Costa Fire District.

The second-floor apartment where the fire started was destroyed. Firefighters were able to mostly keep the blaze from affecting other units, though some nearby apartments in the three-story complex sustained smoke damage.

The two-alarm blaze was reported about 12:50 p.m. at the Lake Terrace apartments in the 1700 block of Ellis Street, off Clayton Road. A contingent of at least 30 firefighters had the fire under control by about 1:20 p.m., but not before it displaced 12 adults and

two children, according to American Red Cross spokesman Jim Mallory.

Three people were inside the apartment where the fire originated, fire district spokeswoman Emily Hopkins said. Two of them, a man and a woman, were able to climb down a fire ladder to safety and were unhurt. The third occupant, the elderly woman, had to be carried out by fire personnel and was taken by helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center with severe burns. Her name was not released Monday.

As firefighters worked, several residents sat on a grassy patch in front of the building, which was closed off by police tape.

Neighbor Michael Palmer, a three-year resident of the complex, said that as the woman was carried out of the apartment, he could see she had been burned. He said he was sleeping when he heard screaming, and saw smoke coming from the nearby apartment.

Gaea Haas, a five-year Lake Terrace resident, said she was in her living room when she saw smoke billowing in.

"I went onto the balcony, and all I could see was black smoke," Haas said. "I woke my husband and called 911. Then I started knocking on doors."

Sherry Louie, also a five-year resident of the complex, lives in a unit above the burned apartment and initially thought someone was barbecuing. She said she tried to knock on the door of the burning unit but got no response.

Anxious residents Monday were still waiting to learn the condition of their apartments as fire investigators worked to determine what caused the blaze. A damage estimate was not immediately available.

Source: Contra Costa Times - Elderly woman dies after Concord fire
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