Peninsula News

Fire victims salvage belongings from burned apartment building

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A deadly fire tore through a Peninsula apartment complex early Sunday morning -- claiming the life of one resident.

Fire investigators say that the fire started in that victim's unit. It happened just before 2 a.m. at the Hallmark House Apartments on Woodside Drive.

Cadaver dogs located the remains of that man on Monday in his unit on the third floor of the apartment building.

Fire officials told ABC7 News that they believe the fire started in his apartment and say they have not determined cause, but they believe it was accidental.

The six-alarm fire destroyed almost the entire third floor of the 72-unit apartment building.

The blaze displaced 97 residents. Those who came back to the apartment building Tuesday described the horror they witnessed.

"Flames coming up on both sides. I can look up from my patio and see the flames going way up high on the third floor. It was bad," Brenda Rolen said.

Rolen lived on the second floor and she was able to salvage her pictures and a few mementos.

All those who lived on the first and second floors came back to units which were soaked with water. D. Joey Stone was just glad he still had belongings which weren't destroyed.

"My stuff is soggy. It could be ash, you know, so I got a lot of stuff to go through," Stone said.

Small groups of residents were escorted by an officer and a firefighter.

Residents were given 10-15 minutes to grab whatever they could. All Mike Mattingly cared about was that his cat was still alive.

"I got five of them back and there's still one inside, so I want to try to get him," Mattingly said.

Mattingly never did find his cat. Residents were talking about a man named Juan Castro, who they call a hero because he climbed from the second floor railing outside his unit to the third floor when he heard a woman with her babies cry out for help.

"I made a decision to climb to the third floor because the mom asked for help. So she had a baby, two babies, so I took one of those babies with me," Castro said.

When Castro came back down he handed the baby over to firefighters.

Most of the residents from the apartment building are on some kind of assistance and many are formally homeless and now they're homeless again.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
redwood city, fire, peninsula news, vic lee
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