A house fire Wednesday night in San Luis Obispo killed one person and left a home severely damaged; while the cause remains under investigation, authorities do not believe the fire was intentionally set.
SLO City Fire Department Chief Garret Olson said responders received a call about the blaze at the corner of Rich Court and Augusta Street shortly before 11 p.m. When they arrived, he said, much of the house, the garage and two vehicles in the driveway were already engulfed.
"It was a very advanced fire by the time 911 was called," Olson said.
One of the home's occupants, a woman, made it out of the house uninjured. The woman told responders when they pulled up that her husband was still inside the house.
Firefighters found the adult man inside, "and sadly discovered the gentleman was not able to make it out of the house and he had succumbed to the smoke," Olson said.
Battalion Chief Ray Hais said firefighters did locate a family dog inside a bedroom, unharmed.
Olson did not name the occupants. The property is listed by the county as owned by Gregory L. Johnson trustee.
Maureen Lyons, a New York resident visiting a home on an adjacent property, said she heard someone yelling for help but initially thought it was children in a neighboring home.
When she looked outside, Lyon said she saw a "huge blaze" emanating from the garage area. She said the heat was so great that the residents of the home where she was staying began hosing down their backyard.
Lyons said firefighters arrived within minutes and immediately began battling the flames, knocking a hole in the roof to let the heat escape from inside.
While firefighters were able to halt the advance of the fire, Olson said there was a substantial amount of damage. Hais estimated about 75 percent of the home was destroyed, with the initial loss estimated to be at least a half-million dollars.
Lyons noted that the house next door to the damaged home wasn't touched by the fire.
"I don't know how they did it. I thought it was going to jump to the next house," Lyons said of firefighters. "There was someone watching over this neighborhood last night."
Olson said between 20 and 24 firefighters, including mutual aid from across the county, were on scene, as were San Luis Obispo police and public utilities employees.
Firefighters kept an overnight watch to make sure the fire didn't start back up, Olson said.
Hais added that even though the home was nearby to another fire that started less than 24 hours prior near the San Luis Obispo railroad station, the two are unrelated.