SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A man died and 15 others were driven out of their apartments early Friday after a fire erupted on the second floor of a San Jose complex, authorities said.

Fire Capt. Brad Cloutier said a neighbor called the fire department around 4 a.m. to report smoke billowing out of a second-floor unit at the Driftwood Manor Apartments on the 1200 block of Blossom Hill Road in South San Jose.

“It sounded like from the first few companies (to arrive on the scene) they had a pretty well developed fire when they first came in,” Cloutier said. “Our arson investigators will look at how much damage there is to the apartment and try to speculate how long the fire had been burning, where it started and what started it.”

“They opened the doors to the apartment,” said Capt. Mitch Matlow. “There was a major fire … They put it out and, while they were doing their search, they found someone inside the fire apartment,” said Capt. Mitch Matlow.

Neighbor Anthony Lema told KPIX what he saw as firefighters attempted to save the victim. “They were giving him CPR. They were doing chest compressions really hard, trying to get him going. It was disturbing, upsetting, especially since I knew him.”

Unfortunately, the man could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Leonardo Baltiel was among the residents forced to flee the flames.

“We just ran out,” he said. “It’s crazy. In time for the holidays, it’s just sad. A guy lost his life.”

Cloutier said the victim appeared to be in his 30s but could not release his name or a cause of his death.

The fire seriously damaged the man’s apartment, along with six neighboring apartments.

“The apartments … will not be occupied for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Cloutier said authorities don’t yet know what caused the blaze. An arson investigator was at the scene looking into it.

KPIX 5’s Devin Fehely contributed to this report


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