East Bay News

Overloaded extension cord blamed for fatal fire

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Investigators believe an overloaded extension cord caused an overnight fire that killed three people and in Oakland, including a young child.

The four-plex on 82nd Avenue was engulfed in flames just before 2 a.m. A young mother and her 3-year-old daughter died. Another man, described as a family friend, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. All three victims were found in one room.

"We found all three patients in the one room, in a bedroom, and they were in a very close proximity. So I'm going to assume they were overcome by the smoke. That is normally what happens in a case like this. We did not find any working smoke detectors anywhere. So that could have been a contributing factor there," Oakland Fire Department spokesperson Bob Nylander said.

An electrical cord is believed to be the cause of the fire. The people living upstairs had their power cut off three weeks ago and had tapped into the electricity of a downstairs unit. A fire department spokesman says the numerous extension cords used to tie into it appear to have caused the fire.

"It was just flames coming out of the door area, and I could see smoke and fire inside from the windows and there was just people screaming," neighbor Johnny Molina said.

A fourth member of the family, a 7-year-old girl, made it out alive. Neighbors say it was because of the efforts of the man who was living with the mother and her two daughters. He went back in to make another rescue and never came out.

"The man on the bottom ran inside and pulled out the 7-year-old girl," neighbor Luis Aguirre said..

A mother and daughter who lived upstairs in the back of the building jumped from the second floor to safety, breaking their legs in the process. One downstairs unit was vacant. The other had been occupied just Wednesday morning by a woman and her three children.

"I heard the noises upstairs and I was wondering what happened to the ladies upstairs and then I opened the door and I saw the fire coming out. So I went back inside, woke up my kids and said 'get out,'" neighbor Erika Arana said.

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oakland, fire, east bay news, laura anthony
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