Fire burns apartments next to Planned Parenthood in SLO

Nine are displaced after house is rendered uninhabitable

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comDecember 27, 2012 

UPDATE: A fire that burned a 113-year-old building in San Luis Obispo on Thursday was caused by a sofa that was placed over a natural-gas floor furnace in a first-floor apartment, according to fire officials.

Four of the nine people who lived in the apartment building were home when the fire broke out at 2:47 p.m., according to a news release from the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department. Heavy smoke and fire in the interior stairway prevented one of the second-floor residents from escaping through the front door, but he was able to jump from the first-floor roof before the fire department arrived. He was not injured.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries while fighting the blaze, according to the news release. They were evaluated at a local emergency room before returning to work.

A dog who lived in a second-floor apartment died.

Fire officials said they were able to control the blaze within 25 minutes of the 911 call.

Damage to the property is estimated to be more than $500,000, according to fire officials. Two of the apartments were not damaged.

The apartment building had a few battery-operated smoke detectors installed, but they were too damaged by the fire to determine whether they were in operating condition at the time of the fire.

ORIGINAL STORY: A  fire in an apartment building in midtown San Luis Obispo on Thursday afternoon left the residents of the dwelling’s four rental units homeless. Nobody was hurt.

The fire broke out about 2:45 p.m. at 729 Pismo St., next to the local Planned Parenthood office.

Flames were still visible an hour later, and smoke continued to billow.

The cause of the fire was still being investigated Thursday evening, said Jeff Gater, a San Luis Obispo Fire Department battalion chief.

In all, nine residents were displaced by the fire, which did heavy damage to the wood-frame-house-turned-apartment-building, Gater said.

As firefighters worked to put out the flames, displaced tenants lined up across the street, watching forlornly.

The structure was uninhabitable Thursday night, and the Red Cross was on the scene offering aid to the residents, Gater said.

Tacoma Woodward, who lived in the ground-floor apartment, said he smelled smoke and at first thought he might have left something cooking on the stove. When he went to investigate, he was met with a wall of smoke and flames.

Woodward got his pets out safely. Another tenant, who lived upstairs, might not have been so lucky. She arrived well after the fire broke out and was looking for her dog.

Jill Davies, who used to live there, said the apartments — a converted single-family home — was a wonderful place where the tenants knew each other.

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