20-25 displaced by Mountain View apartment fire

February 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Many lost everything as a fire raged through a Mountain View apartment complex Monday afternoon. It moved so fast that people had to leave with just the clothes on their backs. Everyone managed to escape without injury, but nearly a dozen units are uninhabitable and several of them are completely destroyed.

The fire started in Unit 57, but how it started is something investigators are still trying to figure out.

The fire at the Dana Garden Apartments in Mountain View quickly turned into a raging inferno. Within 30 minutes, it became a four-alarm fire. Fire crews from Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara responded.

Araceli Callejas lives two houses down from the apartment complex and immediately, she ran over and started knocking door-to-door.

"'Get out, get out, get out,' and then one couple came out with their little baby, 3-weeks-old, and I told them if you want to go to my house... they look very scared and I was very scared too," said Callejas.

Dozens of firefighters from neighboring cities came to help Mountain View firefighters. They don't know where the fire started, but they say 10 units have been affected. Some are destroyed, others have smoke and water damage.

"Once a fire gets into an attic that is common and the wind is blowing it, it will push it just like a wildfire, so and that's exactly what happened here today," said Mountain View Fire Chief Brad Wardle.

About two dozen people are now without a home, including Debbie Gowan. The only thing she left with were the clothes on her back.

"I didn't get my cellphone or my purse or anything. I just kind of took off. I was kind of panicking myself I guess," said Gowan.

The city and Red Cross volunteers are doing what they can to help. They set-up at Landels Elementary School, where displaced residents can go to get vouchers and other assistance. But Jordan Clagett couldn't get the help he needed. He wanted to go into his unit to find his cat. He was told, for safety reasons, it would have to wait until Tuesday.

"They offered me food and all that stuff and they asked if I needed a place to stay and if I needed clothes or whatever. I don't need any of that stuff, I just want my cat," said Clagett.

Crews will be at the apartment overnight to make sure the fire doesn't start up again.


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