OAKLAND (CBS SF) — One man was killed and another taken to the hospital suffering from smoke inhalation early Monday in a fire that damaged two homes in Oakland, authorities said.
Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Tracey Chin said firefighters responded to a 911 call of a structure fire in the 30 block of Malta Court at 4:12 a.m.
Dafne Campos made the 911 call. She ran out of her house and saw the neighboring home ablaze. She could hear a woman inside the burning building.
“I know there was an older woman kinda like knocking and yelling,” she said. “Not seeing anyone come out. I was hoping that nobody was still in there. But I’m not really surprised someone died.”
Fire crews arrived to find a home fully involved and immediately called for a second alarm because the intense blaze had leaped to a nearby building.
“We initially cleared both buildings with the primary search,” Chin said. “We ended up having one patient — a male 76 (years old) — who was transported to the hospital with minor smoke inhalation.”
A total of 36-40 firefighting personnel, including air support, fought the blaze and were able to get it contained in just under 90 minutes at 5:34 a.m.
But when firefighters did a more intense search after the fire was out they discovered a man’s body near the front of the first home which appeared to be under renovation. His name and age were not immediately available.
Chin said firefighters were hampered in battling the fire because the initial home was filled with a lot of debris. She said it appeared to be a “transient” living situation.
Authorities said as many as seven people lived in the home with four believed to be home at the time. Two escaped unharmed.
Among the residents was Alvin Bell, who told KPIX 5 he had placed a piece of plastic over the heater. He believes the man who died may have turned the heater on before going to sleep.
“He didn’t realize the plastic was leaning against it (the heater),” Bell said. “And it caught on fire.”
Veti Masima, who lived next door to the burned out building, said she heard yelling from inside the building as the fire grew.
“I heard screaming,” she told KPIX 5. “Yelling to get out — ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.'”
Masima said the man who died will be missed.
“This is a very nice person,” she said of the dead man. “Very friendly. We used to have him over when we parties and stuff. He’s cover and eat, get a plate.”
The fire also damaged the home next door, but the extent of which it was damaged wasn’t immediately provided. A cause of the fire was still under investigation.