Family narrowly escapes apartment fire in Pinole

PINOLE, Calif. (KGO) -- A two-alarm fire gutted a family's apartment in Pinole.

"All we heard was these alarms started going off, and (when) I came out, the whole kitchen was on (fire)," explains Rafael Rodriguez, who lived in the apartment with his daughter and son.

His daughter, Heaven, was asleep when the fire started around 5 p.m. on Saturday. She cut her foot trying to break a window to get out.

"I tried opening my eyes, but I couldn't see anything. I tried opening my window, that didn't work. I all know if my dad is grabbing me and pulling me out," says Heaven.

The family says the flames spread so fast that they weren't able to grab anything on their way out, losing everything in the fire.

Rafael says he has complained about electrical problems with the stove to his landlord for months. He thinks that is what caused the fire.

"Before you know it, I'm hitting the kitchen (stove), trying to put it out. But I just couldn't. I just told her, let's go, let's go, let's go! Just grab everything and get out," says Rafael.

Rafael says his family, including his son, who wasn't home at the time of the fire, will stay at a shelter at least for Saturday night. While the family was able to make it out, they couldn't save their dog.

"We know that it started in the kitchen area, that's where we most of the charring and heavy fire damage is," says Contra Costa Fire Battalion Chief, Charles Thomas.

He says his crews did a great job containing to the one unit and preventing it from spreading, especially considering how close the buildings are in the complex. He says crews did so while faced with other obstacles, like the fact that the apartment is located at the end of a long driveway.

"Can't get all of my crews and equipment in here, so they have to stretch lines. The nearest water supply is 200 feet away, so they had to carry heavy hoses to get to the water," explains Chief Thomas.

Panicked neighbors watched as crews cleaned up the area, also relieved that the fire didn't spread through the complex.

"It is so close with all this nasty garbage," says nearby resident Lesley Sanchez, talking about the trash near the huge garbage dumpsters. "And you know, the kids and people running around here. Anything could have happened. It could have been a lot worse."

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