By Neil Farrell
A local woman died on Monday after her home caught fire and she was trapped inside.
According to the SLO Fire Department, they responded to 125 S. Tassajara St., at 1:47 p.m. Monday, April 20 for a report of smoke coming from a home.
Battalion Chief Ray Hais said, “This was quickly upgraded to a structure fire response based upon information relayed to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. The first SLO City Fire Department unit [Engine 2] arrived within 3 minutes of being dispatched and found heavy fire throughout the upper level of a 1,500 square foot, split level single-family residence. A neighbor met Engine-2 as it arrived and indicated the strong possibility of a resident still inside.”
Engine-2’s crew burst through the front door and attacked under conditions that Chief Hais said were, “very hot, difficult conditions while conducting a primary search for the resident.”
A second crew cut through the roof venting the hot smoke enough that the first-in crew located the woman in a corner bedroom. She was in extremely critical condition, Chief Hais said, but still alive. She was rushed via ambulance to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center but died from her injuries.
Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Gater said they had trouble getting in the front door. “The front door had a large accumulation of combustible objects directly behind it,” he told SLO City News. “Out of respect for the deceased, I will just say the load of objects and belongings was profound, contributed to the rapid spread of fire, and made access/progress through the structure while firefighting and conducting the initial search very challenging. Overhaul was time consuming.”
Firefighters had control of the fire within 10 minutes of arrival. No injuries occurred to firefighters and the loss/damage to the structure and contents is estimated at over $150,000. The fire was fueled by and rescue efforts hampered because the home was filled with items, as would be the home of a hoarder.
The City responded a battalion chief, a deputy chief, a ladder truck, and three fire engines. Cal Fire also sent a battalion chief, an EMS Captain, and a fire engine as part of the automatic aid agreement. Two City fire investigators and four SLOPD officers also responded, as well as San Luis Ambulance.