Two-alarm blaze causes more than $125,000 in damage
Gilroy – Two sleeping Eigleberry Street residents awoke Tuesday morning to the sounds of popping glass and discovered their house was on fire. They fled wearing only their pajamas. The two-alarm blaze destroyed three rooms in the house and caused more than $125,000 in damages, fire officials said. No one was injured.
The call came about 8:30am and when the Gilroy Fire Department arrived, flames were licking the rooftop from the windows and the side door on the left side of the home at 7225 Eigleberry St.
“Every port had smoke blowing out of it,” said Capt. Tim Price. “We went right into a fire attack.”
As firefighters doused the flames from the front and back, another engine unit cut a hole in the roof to ventilate and to check whether fire had reached into the attic.
Five adults live in the home – two primary tenants, who were not inside the home at the time, and three other individuals who sublet rooms. Two females were sleeping inside when the fire started.
“They woke up to snap, crackle, pop,” Price said, and fled the home.
The roof, kitchen, living room, dining area and hallways were destroyed. Though the fire is under investigation, fire officials believe the cause is electrical.
Firefighters do not believe there was a working fire alarm in the house.
Neighbors were evacuated from nearby homes and stood outside dressed in pajamas watching as firefighters doused the flames.
“My neighbor came over because she doesn’t have a phone, yelling, ‘Fire! Fire!’ And I called 911,” said Cindy Chavez who lives across the street. “She smelled smoke and came over saying, ‘Cindy! Open the door something’s happening’ … First the flames were big. Very big.”
The white stucco house was stained black from where flames charred the side of the house. Singed couch cushions and glass lay in the flowerbeds. The air reeked of melted plastic and ash from the fire covered cars in the driveway.
Two engines from South Santa Clara Fire/CDF responded, in addition to the two Gilroy engines and rescue unit. Gilroy police blocked off Eigleberry Street between Seventh and Eighth streets.
“Apparently (the cause) is not real cut and dry – we’ll see what the investigation brings,” said Division Chief Clay Bentson. “I guess they had been having some electrical problems lately. They heard a popping in the breaker box. They said they did have some space heaters, but said that they weren’t on at the time.”
According to Bentson, the fire started in the living room which had been turned into a makeshift bedroom. The charred front doors were ripped off the hinges in an effort to get inside. A mattress blocked the front doors, initially making it difficult for firefighters to get inside.
Residents wearing hospital masks gathered trash bags of their smoke-damaged belongings while firefighters carried burnt furniture from the house.
A pile of scorched couches, pillows, mattresses, clothing, blankets, melted chairs and some items burnt beyond recognition were placed on the front lawn.
The two female residents declined to comment.
The home was red tagged and boarded up, forcing all five residents to be displaced. The Red Cross and the Gilroy Fire Department’s Women’s Auxiliary provided temporary shelter and some relief money to the victims.