Family displaced by fire

A fire that possibly started in a garage displaced a family of six Wednesday night.

"This is no longer a habitable domicile," said Fire Chief Lou Buckley about the red brick rental at 1521 Appaloosa Drive near Carson High School.

Alvin Smith, 70, his wife and three grandchildren were home when the fire broke out about 9:45 p.m., said Sheriff Ken Furlong.

"I was in the back room when I saw glowing, then I heard crackling," said Tabitha Hann, 15, who was staying with her grandmother, Dee Schroeder, directly across the street. "When I came out the front door I could feel the heat."

Schroeder said once outside she saw flames shooting from the garage.

"I thought 'Oh my God it's going to burn to the ground,' but once the (fire department) got here it was knocked down fast," she said.

Chief Buckely said the bulk of the fire damage was contained to the garage, but some flames reached inside the home, into the attic and the remainder of the house sustained heavy smoke damage.

Witnesses said the grandmother rushed out the front door of the home with her two, two-year-old granddaughters and an 11-year-old grandson, and the grandfather was found by firefighters in the back yard of the home unharmed. He was treated by paramedics for smoke inhalation and released, Furlong said.

Aggravated by the situation, Smith insisted he be let back into the home, but Furlong and firefighters prevented him from doing so.

"He was overwhelmed by the fire, very concerned about his family and his kids and didn't want to leave the property," he said.

A Sheriff's department chaplain convinced Smith to go to a relative's home where deputies had taken the children.

A 16-year-old grandson wasn't home at the time of the fire, Furlong said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Contact F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.


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