South Bay News

Investigators looking into cause of Los Gatos fire

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A brush fire along Highway 85 in Los Gatos destroyed three vehicles and a shed Thursday afternoon, but firefighters were able to prevent it from spreading to nearby apartments.

It burned so close to homes that residents could feel the heat and the need to get out of the way. The fire grew so fast, the homes might have been lost if not for the quick response of firefighters.

The people who live in the Rinconada Court Apartments in Los Gatos say the fire spread fast. For some, the first sign of trouble was the smell of smoke.

"My friend was like, 'Yeah I smell campfire,' and I was like, 'I smell that too,' and we parked right there, and we looked and we saw black smoke coming up and we're like, 'What the heck,'" resident Allison Miller said.

The apartment buildings sit right along the railroad tracks and Highway 85. Residents were worried that the flames were going to jump over and reach their homes.

No one took any chances.

"As soon as we saw it we got in the car and everyone else was already getting out of the building, so yeah, as soon as we saw it we made sure we could get out OK," resident Melissa Raplee said.

Firefighters had a tough time getting to the flames at first. They were forced to cut through a chain link fence.

Flames destroyed a few sheds and three vehicles, but crews were successful in keeping the flames from reaching the apartment buildings.

Investigators are now trying to determine what started the fire. They say it looks suspicious.

"Because of the time of day, and the location; there were reports of teenagers in the area," Santa Clara County Fire Batt. Chief Gary Cocroft said.

None of this is surprising to Manan Sardana. He says he hears people hanging out near the tracks often.

"Couple times a week you can hear people playing with fireworks back there so it's a little scary with all the brushes and the trees and etc.," Sardana said.

Residents say there was a smaller fire in the same area last year.

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los gatos, fire, south bay news, lilian kim
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