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Fire forces evacuation at Cambria apartment complex; 1 person injured

A fire reported at about 8:30 a.m. Monday near Cambria’s Shamel Park forced the evacuation of a three-unit apartment complex and injured one person.

A sheriff’s official who had helped block off the neighborhood from traffic on Windsor Boulevard initially said the fire was caused by fallen power lines, but PG&E spokesman Mark Mesesan said a worker who was sent to the scene to turn off the power did not find any downed power lines or faulty equipment.

One person, a gray-haired man, was taken away on a stretcher. According to the Cambria Fire Department, the man was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo with non-life-threatening burns. His condition is currently unknown.

Billowing white smoke could be seen rising from the garage area of the building in the 300 block of Bristol Street, with occasional black smoke wafting skyward, as well, partially obscuring the morning sun.

A bystander who declined to be identified said he called 911 when he saw power lines spark.

Jerry Gruber, general manager of the Cambria Community Services District, said via email about 10:15 a.m. that the fire had been contained to the garage area. About nine people had been displaced according to Fire Chief William Hollingsworth, Gruber wrote.

Amy Parsons, who lives in one of the two second-story units, stood across Bristol watching fire personnel fight the blaze. She said all the people who lived in the building had been evacuated as of about 9 a.m.

“I was asleep, and all of a sudden I smelled really strong smoke,” she said. “Sometimes my husband leaves the heater on, but this was more than the heater.”

A few moments later, Parsons said, “they were banging on the door telling me to get out. I was the last one to get out.”

In addition to at least four vehicles from Cambria Fire Department, vehicles from Cal Fire along with the Los Osos and Templeton fire departments could be seen at the site, along with an ambulance from the Cambria Community Healthcare District. Several people gathered nearby to watch firefighters attack the blaze in the first-floor garage and apartment, as well as the two units on the upper floor.

By about 9:30 a.m., the Cambria Fire Department tweeted that the fire had been knocked down and units would remain at the scene for a few hours.

“Our firefighters are safe and did a fantastic job in putting the fire out and stopping it from spreading,” Gruber wrote in his email.

Clarification: This story has been updated to include a comment from PG&E on initial reports of a downed power line.

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