Suspicious fire burns home in Richmond

January 9, 2008 8:06:07 AM PST
Richmond arson investigators are at the scene of a house that burned in the early morning hours.

Investigators say the fire is considered suspicious until they can determine what fueled it. What seems strange is that the family who lives here had already left to sleep elsewhere after smelling a gas-like odor and called PG&E to report it.

The Richmond fire department says that PG&E came to this house on South 47th Street late last night to shut off the gas. The family then left to stay overnight at a relative's home in El Cerrito. A passerby spotted flames around midnight and called the fire department. The damage has now displaced the family of 11 -- five adults and six children, ages 1-to-14 years old. But even though the home is un-inhabitable, they're most thankful no one was hurt.

"It just renews my faith in god. For everyone to say, 'well yes let's just leave until this odor goes away because it's just such a strange odor'. And through and through and by the grace of god left and then this fire happened. We've been here 47 years. We just never, ever had anything like this," said Melita Sims-Agbabiaka, homeowner.

The family lost everything on the first level of the home, that's where firefighters believe the flames must have started. The upper level also got some smoke damage. The fire department estimates about $100,000-dollars in damages.

When the house alarm sounded off during the fire, the alarm company notified the family. So they found out quite quickly what happened to their house -- the family says they'll stay with relatives until they can rebuild.

As for the cause of the fire, investigators will probably have the answer within the next few days.