That two-alarm fire broke out at a home on DiMaggio Avenue in Pittsburg at about 12:30 a.m. Fire crews believe the women could have easily survived if they did just one thing.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Officials say plenty of working smoke alarms were found inside the house. But sadly the batteries had been removed.
Contra Costa firefighters were sifting through the rubble of this house on DiMaggio Avenue Sunday in the wake of an intense fire which lit up the night sky.
Mario Missiego and his son live in a backhouse behind the home and narrowly escaped.
"My neighbor just started banging on the door and I came outside thinking he wanted something else and I was like, 'man what's going on,' and he was like, 'it's a fire it's a fire, come outside your house.' And I just rushed for my son and ran outside the door," he said.
But three women living inside the burning home did not survive, they were overcome by the smoke and flames.
"I feel terrible, man, not going to live right no more knowing the three ladies passed away right next to our home," Missiego said.
A fire marshal showed us the house's smoke detector saying, "That's where the batter should be, but no batteries."
Contra Costa County Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard showed us one of three non-working smoke detectors found inside the house, sitting on top of the kitchen counter.
"Not only were the smoke alarms not installed on the walls, but there were no batteries for them to operate," he said. "So these five dollar devices, more than likely, would have made the difference between life and death this morning."
The fire spread next door to the roofline of Mary Lou Oliver's house, but was quickly put out.
"Makes you realize how it can go up so quickly," she said. "I know I'll be changing the battery on my fire alarm."
Fire officials believe three women who perished in the blaze were all related.