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Separate fires in Brawley nearly destroy home and apartment unit

June 19, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Three firefighters from here and two from Calipatria were taken to Pioneer's Memorial Hospital for minor heat exhaustion after battling an apartment fire in this city — one of two blazes here Tuesday.

All five firefighters were reported to be in good condition. Brawley fire Capt. Manuel Sevilla said the three Brawley firefighters, one of whom suffered minor burns to the back of his neck, are at home resting. One of them was a full-time firefighter while the other two were reserves.

Calipatria Fire Department officials said their two reserve firefighters were also at home resting.

In the first fire of the day, which was reported at 1:13 p.m. at a house in the 1500 block of A Street, there were no injuries among firefighters or the occupants of the house. Only Brawley fire responded to that blaze.


The house, occupied by a woman and her two grandchildren, was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived.

While none of the occupants were injured, a family dog — which Sevilla said might be responsible for the fire — died during the fire.

Sevilla said it appears the fire started in a back room where a candle had been lighted. He said the dog may have knocked the candle over and accidentally set the room on fire. Sevilla said about 80 to 90 percent of the house was destroyed.

Just as firefighters were coming back into the station, a Strike Team of local firefighters was called out at 3 p.m. to Cajon Pass to help fight a brush fire there.

He said that left the Brawley Fire Department with only five firefighters.

At around 8:42 p.m. the second fire was reported. It was an apartment complex in the 1200 block of North Imperial Avenue.

He said the tired and depleted Fire Department responded to the blaze. When firefighters arrived, they found one of the apartments fully engulfed.

Firefighters faced more problems when their water hose broke inside the apartment as they tried to fight the blaze.

Sevilla said that and the fact the firefighters were already tired was the reason why he called a second alarm.

Engines from Calipatria, Imperial County and El Centro responded to the fire. The fire at that point had spread into the attic making it hard for the five Brawley firefighters to reach it.

After Brawley firefighters fixed the hose, with the help from the other firefighters, they opened up the roof and attacked the fire from both the outside and inside of the apartment.

He said the fire caused about $50,000 or $60,000 in damage to the apartment.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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