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Thursday, 13 December 2012 10:14

Elderly Woman Escapes Fire Caused by Holiday Decorations in Condo

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Yesterday, at approximately 9am, the Turlock Fire Department responded to a fire at a four-plex of condominiums, located on Niagra Street. An elderly woman escaped her burning condo without injury.

Upon arrival, Turlock Firefighters encountered heavy fire conditions in an upstairs condo of a four-plex, with 20’ flames issuing from three large roofline windows to the rear of the unit.

Crews initiated an aggressive fire attack and search of the apartment, while California State University Stanislaus Police Department ensured everyone was out of the adjacent apartments.

A volunteer firefighter from Gordo, Alabama was in the area and also assisted in ensuring everyone was out of the adjacent units prior to the Turlock Fire Department’s arrival.

Crews had the fire under control within 10 minutes of arrival, but it took about an hour to ensure it was completely out, due to some extension and multiple void spaces.

The adjacent units sustained various levels of damage from heat, water, and removing drywall to control fire extension. All four units were deemed uninhabitable until repairs could be rendered. All searches were clear and no civilian or firefighter injuries were sustained.

Turlock Fire Department Battalion Chief Bill Becker presided as Officer in Charge over the incident.

Smoke detectors were reported as not working at this fire, and the Turlock Fire Department would like to remind the community to please check your smoke detectors for proper operation.

Investigators believe the cause is electrical wiring, possibly Christmas lighting, that was much too concentrated around lightweight combustibles. The fire started near the couch in the living room area of the condo, causing major damage to the entire apartment. Estimated dollar loss for the whole 4-plex is $120,000.

Turlock Fire Department responded with 1 Fire Chief, 2 Division Chiefs, 1 Battalion Chief, and 4 Engine Companies for a total of 16 personnel.

Truck 71 was subsequently brought to the scene to supply breathing air. Ceres Fire assisted with 1 Battalion Chief and 1 Truck Company, including 3 personnel. Keyes Fire also assisted with 1 Engine Company and 2 personnel. Others assisting included Turlock Police Department, CSUS Police Department, AMR, PG&E, Turlock Irrigation District, Red Cross, and Turlock Fire Department Chaplain Gerry Grossman. Turlock Rural FPD provided city coverage during the incident.

Since all four units were uninhabitable, Red Cross provided assistance to those who needed it, which consisted of 3 or 4 people.

The Turlock Fire Department would also like to remind the public that holiday decorations can increase your chances of a fire. Please keep safety in mind during this holiday season. To review some good information on holiday fire safety, please visit

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