Morro Bay Fire Department on Sunday battled a third major residential fire within just a few weeks, when a home in the 300 block of Vashon St., erupted in flames and is probably a total loss.
The department responded at about 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25 to the report of a structure fire. When they arrived the main house was ablaze with flames shooting high into the air. A plume of smoke rose hundreds of feet in the air.
Three people were inside the residence when the fire broke out, according to MBFD Fire Marshal Matt Vierra, who was on scene the next day trying to ascertain the cause of the blaze. He said the alarm was first raised by a family who have a vacation home next door. The family was about to leave for home when they noticed the fence between the two properties was ablaze.
One of them ran next door and pounded on the front windows to alert the occupants inside. Vierra said three people lived at the home and a friend was over too and had barbecued earlier. He couldn’t say for sure Monday that the barbecue ignited the fire, because one of the residents is a mechanic and there are oil and fuel containers in the vicinity of where the fire started.
The fire department got assistance from Cal Fire/County Fire, SLO City Fire and Los Osos Fire departments as a total of six engines responded to the scene. Ambulance paramedics were also on hand for any injuries, though none were reported, and Morro Bay Community Volunteers and police officers closed off Main Street and managed the scene,
The main home where the fire struck is likely a loss and the adjacent vacation home has severe damage to a portion of the roof, as firefighters had to vent that roof and overhaul a portion of it to stop the fire from burning down that home as well. The two houses are just a few feet apart, separated by a wooden fence. A small row of apartments on the other side also was damaged from smoke.
There were no injuries to any of the occupants, whom Vierra said had to escape out a back door because the fire was blocking the front entrance. The fire also destroyed a newer model Dodge Charger in the carport.
The owner of the home, who watched in dismay, said he’d just finished paying off the mortgage after 25 years only to lose it to a fire. He attributed the fire to barbecue ashes not being dealt with properly. Fire Chief Steve Knuckles on Monday confirmed that was the cause of the fire.
He added that one of his cats got out safely but they couldn’t find another one. Vierra said that cat was still missing on Monday morning.
This is the third house fire in North Morro Bay since the start of 2018. A home in the 300 block of Orcas was destroyed Jan. 14 when it caught fire. That fire was reported at about 3:50 a.m. Vierra said they have not been able to determine a cause for that fire, as the home was filled with flammable items, hoarder’s house.
That resident was able to escape the fire and was treated for smoke inhalation. A firefighter was also injured in that blaze.
Then at 2:08 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, there was another fire, this time in the 400 block of Orcas St., that caused extensive damage but a quick aggressive attack by firefighters saved the house (see story this issue, Page 10).
This latest fire also caused a loss of electricity to the block but PG&E crews had the power restored within a few hours.
The fire was a chance for the fire department to use its 75-foot ladder truck, as the truck parked on the next block up, Tahiti Street, and rained water down on the fire from there.
Neighbors have posted video and photos of the blaze on the MBFD Twitter page, see: twitter.com/morrobayfire.
Story and Photos by Neil Farrell