Photo and report by Logan Hall
A fire that started in an unattached garage severely damaged a house on the 600 block of Fairview Road late Sunday morning. One man, a neighbor who had tried to help fight the fire before emergency crews arrived, was taken by ambulance to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
No other injuries were reported, but the fire, which quickly spread to the attic, burned one corner of the house and will likely leave extensive smoke damage according to Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Mike Lindbery. Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Lindbery says that a breezeway physically connected the garage and the house and flames were able to cross from one structure to the other.
“There was a heavy fuel load in the there,” said Lindbery about the accumulation of material that could potentially be flammable. “That makes things much more complicated. We’re going to’ be here for hours mopping up.”
Neighbors first knew something wrong when they noticed the smell of smoke. “At first it smelled like someone was burning trash,” said Fernando Flores Jr., who lives next door to the residence. “Then we saw flames so my brother called 911.”
Flores says that the two occupants of the burning building were at first unaware of the danger. “They didn’t know what was going on,” continued Flores, “so I went in and told them to get out of the house. Luckily the Fire Department responded quickly.”
Flores and his brothers attempted to help the homeowners fight off the blaze until fire crews arrived. Flores’ brother, Jesus, was taken to the hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation while helping the family defend the property from the onslaught of flames.
“We grabbed the garden hose but it was already too late,” said the property’s owner who was only identified as Al. “Fire was just pouring out the front door.”
According to Lindbery, 40 firefighters from stations all over the county, including Ventura County Stations 20, 21, 22 and 23 from the Ojai Valley, responded. Fire crews from Camarillo, Rincon, Fillmore, Somis and Ventura were also dispatched to fight the two-alarm blaze.
Fire crews remained on scene for several hours mopping up after the fire was knocked down at 12:49 p.m. Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 11:36 a.m. and arrived on scene at 11:40 a.m. according to fire dispatch records.