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Apartment unit destroyed by flames, Brawley fire crews save three others

September 01, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — A fire destroyed an apartment here Saturday but efforts by the city's Fire Department helped save three other units in the complex.

Brawley fire Capt. Jesse Zendejas said the department was called to a fire reportedly in a back yard of an apartment complex in the 300 block of A Street about 5 a.m Saturday.

When fire crews arrived they quickly ascertained it actually was an apartment that was engulfed in flames.

Zendejas said the resident of the apartment, Jose Luis Lorenzo, had been awakened about 5 a.m.

Lorenzo told investigators he smelled gas and went to check out the courtyard, which is between the four apartments and contains the water heater.

Lorenzo told firefighters he lighted a match, which caused an explosion. Lorenzo suffered burnt hair and mild burns to his hands from the explosion .

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The explosion caused the apartment to quickly catch fire. The apartment was destroyed.

Zendejas said firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading with the help of fire crews from the county Fire Department and Calipatria, saving the three adjacent apartments.

Lorenzo's wife was not home, which Zendejas said was fortunate because she could have been killed in the fire. Zendejas also said Lorenzo was lucky he didn't receive any serious injuries.

Investigators estimated the apartment was worth about $60,000. The other apartments received about $20,000 in smoke damage.

Lorenzo lost about $30,000 in personal property, including $5,000 that Lorenzo said he kept in the residence.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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