Santa Rosa residents displaced after jumping off apartment balconies to escape fire

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- A massive apartment fire in Santa Rosa had people jumping off balconies and carports to escape the flames and smoke.

The fire broke out at the Nueva Vista Apartments off Steele Lane just before 7 o'clock Thursday night.

RELATED: Approximately 140 displaced in Santa Rosa apartment fire

Fire investigators believe the fire started in a living room entertainment center in a second floor apartment and spread quickly.

Resident Claudia Nola said "I was like oh it's a false alarm and then I saw smoke billowing out of the vent and I freaked out and ran in the building because I have cats up there. I couldn't get my cats but I grabbed my laptop and went back to the stairwell and it was completely black with smoke. Scary."

She got out but others were trapped.

Resident Rene Candalaria said "I wasn't going to make it through the hallway. I have asthma so I didn't want to attempt that. So I jumped off the balcony. "

Assistant fire marshal Paul Lowenthal with the Santa Rosa Fire Department said "When we arrived at the scene we had reports of people on balconies, jumping off carports. Our response to this was pretty significant. We had firefighters placing ladders around the building to rescue people. "

Four people were injured but no one went to the hospital.

140 residents were evacuated.

They came back on Friday to find pets and pick up medicine and belongings.

Inspectors deemed one building safe to occupy after power was restored by mid afternoon.

RELATED: Neighbors rescue woman trapped on second story of burning home

70 residents may be out of their units for several weeks.

Lowenthal said "We do have a lot of fire damage in the corridors that feed a lot of the units. The focus becomes which parts of the building are habitable and which are not."

The complex is just a couple of blocks away from the Coffee Park neighborhood that was level in the 2017 Santa Rosa fire.
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