Atascadero mobile home fire: Woman escapes blaze; dog missing

Resident got out without injury but home she shared with daughter and dog was destroyed

acornejo@thetribunenews.comOctober 1, 2009 

Constance and Colleen Berretta of Atascadero lost everything in an early morning fire that destroyed their mobile home Thursday. A charred shell was all that was left of the double-wide beige home shared by the mother and daughter.

Constance Berretta, 72, was home when the fire started about 8:45 a.m. and was able to get out without injury.

Her daughter, Colleen Berretta, who moved in with her four months ago to help care for her, was at work.

Buddy, a brown and white Chihuahua and a close companion to the Berrettas, was missing in the blaze.

“A neighbor called me and said, ‘Your mom’s house is on fire,’ ” Colleen Berretta said. “I could see the smoke from five miles away.”

A discarded, but not fully extinguished, cigarette started the blaze that spread quickly from the back patio through the home — causing part of the roof and floor to collapse.

Five engines from Atascadero Fire Department, one from Paso Robles and one from County/Cal Fire worked for nearly an hour to extinguish the fire, according to the Atascadero Fire Department.

The blaze had fully engulfed the home in the Camino del Robles senior park off El Camino Real in northern Atascadero by the time the first engine arrived, according to the Fire Department. The fire caused $175,000 in damage.

Neighbors used garden hoses to help contain the fire until help arrived. A grass field behind the home caught fire. That fire was put out within five minutes.

Atascadero fire Capt. Casey Bryson credits weed removal for stopping the spread of the field fire, which could have threatened a housing development that borders the mobile home park.

Just hours after the fire, Colleen Berretta made phone calls trying to replace necessities such as prescriptions.

“Everything is gone,” she said.

A few weeks earlier, she had purchased new living room furniture for the home. Nothing remained.

“It is the things like photos that make it so hard,” she said, wiping away tears. “And losing Buddy.”

The Berrettas were told that a neighbor crawled through the front entrance on hands and knees to call for the pet, but he could not be found.

Firefighters did not find the dog’s remains, leaving the Berrettas hopeful that he made it out alive.

If you find buddy the chihuahua

Buddy, Constance and Colleen Berretta’s brown and white Chihuahua, was lost during the mobile home fire in Atascadero on Thursday. He is wearing a collar with his name and the Berrettas’ home number. Colleen Berretta has asked that anyone who finds him call her cell phone at 441-7827.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939.

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