Twenty-six residents packed into a single-family home were displaced after a fire on Central Avenue early Saturday morning.
Hollister Fire Department Battalion Chief Rodney Dover on Wednesday said the residents of the home were lucky because there was no working fire alarm in the house located just off Westside Boulevard.
The blaze was reported at 12:27 a.m. when the fire department received word that people were possibly trapped. When fire personnel arrived, there was confusion on scene due to the number of people living in the building, said Dover, referring to the home as a “pretty small residential structure.”
Three people were injured, with respective arm, back and smoke inhalation issues. Dover said there were multiple code violations at the scene.
“We’re pretty positive there was an illegal garage conversion that was done on the property and there was a second residence on the property that we don’t believe was permitted,” Dover said. “But we won’t know for sure until we investigate with the city’s permits.”
Dover said all residents were displaced in the Central Avenue fire and investigators had yet to conclude a cause. He said it was still under investigation and the fire department was working with the insurance provider.
He reported there was a “heavy” fire load due to the number of beds and belongings, which contributed to the fire spreading. He said the residents were “lucky to get out alive.”
“Of the 26 people, I was told that 24 people were sound asleep in their beds. They had no working smoke detectors. They were lucky. There happened to be two individuals that were awake.”
One of those individuals was injured while running through the house warning the others.
“They all had to escape through windows,” Dover said.
A separate fire occurred on F Street in Tres Pinos on Sunday. It had about 50 percent fire damage and smoke damage to the rest, Dover said. Nobody was home at the time, but residents were displaced there as well. Investigators believe that fire may have been started by a faulty heater.