Dog killed, woman arrested in 4-alarm condo complex fire in San Mateo

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- San Mateo firefighters battled a 4-alarm fire at a condo complex on the 2300 block of Ticonderoga Drive overnight.

It took four people to restrain an emotional woman, who wanted to run into her burning San Mateo home to save her dog.

Authorities didn't think that would be safe and held her back. The dog didn't make it.

"The dog perished and Humane Society is here to help," said Chief John Healy with the San Mateo Fire Department.

Neighbors say the woman and her boyfriend weren't home when the fire started. When they returned, the woman wanted to know why neighbors didn't save the dog.

"They got very upset at us said nobody tried to get the dog, but nobody knew," explained Alba Toboni, a neighbor.

The fire started at 10:45 Thursday night and damaged three condo units.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and fire coming from one unit in the three story condo complex. A second alarm assignment was immediately requested. The bulk of the fire in the interior of the initial condo was contained in the first 15-20 minutes, but the fire in the attic space above the units was extremely difficult to contain.

Firefighters said this was due to multiple layers of dense foam insulation, and several layers of plywood. A third alarm was requested about 30 minutes later, and a 4th alarm was requested about 1 hour later.
At its peak there were 14 engine companies, four ladder trucks, and seven chief officers on scene.

"We were woken up by knocking by the firefighters and we came out and watched. It was unreal, unreal," said Adam Wagner, also a neighbor.

No one was hurt, but residents were very distraught as they surveyed the damage.

"Everyone is emotional. We've lived here 12 years. We love the Redwoods, we love the whole place. It's just like a piece of you," said Toboni.

Fire officials say the cause of the fire is a cigarette left burning in a master bedroom.
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