Family escapes house fire in Martinez

January 17, 2012 2:26:32 PM PST
A family of five escaped a fire that destroyed their Martinez home early Tuesday morning thanks to smoke detectors, a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesman said.

At about 3:55 a.m., firefighters received a report of a fire in the 900 block of Walnut Street, where arriving crews found a two-story house engulfed in flames, Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard said.

Four adults and one juvenile had exited the burning home on their own after the smoke alarms sounded. Broschard said the occupants had to pass through an area of heat and near-open flames as they fled.

One person was taken to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

"The occupant of the home actually just replaced the smoke alarm batteries yesterday," Broschard said.

He it is critical for residents to have working smoke alarms, especially given the materials used in modern furnishing and the amount of combustible materials and plastics inside homes.

"The fire can build very rapidly, and even with smoke alarms we're not given a lot of time to get out," Broschard said.

He encouraged residents to check their smoke detectors and replace dead or weak batteries.

The home is considered a total loss, with the blaze causing an estimated $350,000 in damage, he said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Broschard said there are reports that the blaze started in the area of a pellet stove.