Fire burns woman, but homeownersays he lives by himself

An early-morning fire left a woman with second-degree burns on her face and hands, fire officials said, though the homeowner said he lives alone and wasn’t aware that anyone had been injured.

The San Mateo Fire Department responded to a 911 call from a Sonora Drive house at 5:38 a.m. Wednesday and found the garage in flames. The fire also had started to spread to the neighboring house and was “within a minute” of penetrating that house, according to Fire Chief Daniel Belville.

The homeowner, Vince Boston, was removed from the area, as was a woman who had sustained burns, Belville said. He said the woman was taken to the San Mateo County General Hospital by a police officer, but he could not provide information about how she’d sustained the burns.

However, Boston, who has lived in the house for 25 years, said he lives alone and that, to his knowledge, no one had been burned. He said the Fire Department’s information was “inaccurate.”

Whenasked to clarify the original report, Deputy Fire Marshal Bill Euchner said the fire was still under investigation, but confirmed that a woman had been burned. He said the cause of the fire is still unknown, but the house didn’t have a working smoke detector.

Wednesday afternoon, Boston said he was “still in shock.” He lost everything in his garage, including family photos, musical instruments and books.

“But it could have been much worse. It could have been the whole house,” he said.

He said he wasn’t sure what had woken him up, but when he did, he immediately smelled smoke, heard fire crackling and ran outside.

Boston’s garage is just a few feet away from his neighbor’s house, and the fire had begun catching that house’s wall and roof on fire. The heat also cracked some of the house’s double-paned windows.

The neighbor, who declined to be identified, said she woke up to the sound of her toddler fussing, which she said was very unusual. She went in to comfort her daughter, whose room is immediately next to Boston’s garage, and saw what she thought were flashing lights outside the window. She went to the window to look and saw flames right outside. She shouted to her husband and they ran outside.

“It was kind of freaky,” she said, one hand on her pregnant stomach and the other on her toddler’s head. “I was nervous — it was spreading really fast. And we just moved in a month ago.”

kworth@examiner.com

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