Two women killed in Vallejo fire identified

October 5, 2009 6:39:11 PM PDT
Fire tore through a Vallejo home Saturday morning, killing an elderly mother and her daughter who lived there. Neighbors are asking whether their deaths could have been avoided had budget cuts not shuttered the closest fire station.

MOST POPULAR: Video, stories and more
SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you from ABC7 News

Not much is left of the house on Jordan Street. It was home to 85-year-old Clarenza Burch. She was on hospice and couldn't get out on her own.

Investigators say her 57-year-old daughter, Geraldine, tried to rescue her, but they both became trapped inside. Now neighbors wonder whether their deaths could have been avoided.

"This is an area that has a lot of dry grass behind these old houses, real old houses. So for them to shut down, the fire station it's horrible. A quick response would have save probably somebody's life," said neighbor Andres Leon.

Vallejo's Fire Station Two is the closest to the house and just over a mile away, but the city's bankruptcy last year forced its closure.

The same distance away, Station Six, took the call instead and arrived in seven minutes and the house was already engulfed in flames.

When fire crews fire Chief Russell Sherman says it's impossible to know whether the outcome of the Saturday morning fire could have been different.

"It would have been a probably a very close race in terms of response times with the engine that did respond," said Sherman.

City leaders were briefed on the tragedy. Mayor Osby Davis says it's unfair to place blame

"It's a disservice to the public to talk about bankruptcy and a catastrophe they happen whether you have money or don't have money," said Davis.

Firefighters still don't know officially what caused this fire, but one of the things they're looking into is whether one of the residents was out back smoking and tossed a lit cigarette near the house.

Neighbors watched helplessly as it went up in flames.

"We ran up the street we was like oh we got to go in there and grab so body but the smoke was so thick," said neighbor Andrew Sacdalan.

Today, Red Cross workers were on scene trying to help the nine other people who lived here, but are now homeless.

       Today's latest headlines | ABC7 News on your phone
Follow us on Twitter | Fan us on Facebook | Get our free widget


Load Comments