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Saturday, July 20, 2013

San Jose: Two homes go up in flames, and a gas line turns one into a 'blowtorch'

San Jose: Two homes go up in flames, and a gas line turns one into a 'blowtorch'

SAN JOSE -- When firefighters arrived Friday evening at the two homes that sit side-by-side on Linkshead Court, not far from Millbrook Elementary School on the city's southeast side, both were burning and there was no way to tell which went up in flames first. "We think it was the one on the left," said Capt. Mike Van Elgort, a department spokesman. It didn't matter. They quickly set about extinguishing the fire in both houses.
When it was discovered that a gas line had ruptured on one of the houses, the fire eventually required three alarms, which brought as many as 60 firefighters. Van Elgort said the cause of the fires is still under investigation, but that it appeared the blaze began outside -- possibly in a rubbish pile between the two homes -- and quickly spread to the interiors of the houses.
"The one with the broken gas line we think was the second house on fire," Van Elgort said. "With a broken gas meter, you have something like a blowtorch, causing the fire to spread much more rapidly."
The two single-story ranch style homes left 12 residents displaced, but the damage to both homes was described as moderate. "Our guys did a great job keeping it to those two homes," Van Elgort said. "It quite easily could have taken both those houses completely up in flames, and then spread to additional homes because it was a gas-fed fire."
Most residents were away when the fire started and no one was injured, according to the spokesman.

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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