Three units destroyed, water and smoke damage four others; 33 residents forced out
SAN MATEO — Thirty-three residents were displaced and one was injured Wednesday in a three-alarm apartment-building fire that caused more than $1 million in damage.
The blaze started at 3:12 p.m. at 3309 La Selva St. in a block of seven apartment buildings, according to San Mateo Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan Belleville. It appears to have started in the kitchen area of one unit and quickly spread through the attic to two adjacent apartments.
One man, who lived in apartment No. 5, where the fire began, sustained minor cuts to his arm and was taken to a local hospital. Fire crews first believed that two more residents were in the building at the time of the blaze, but at press time they said they believed that all others were safe from harm, according to Belleville.
The injured resident reported the fire, but fire crews in the area responded to the blaze before the dispatcher called them.
“I was two miles away, and I could see the column of smoke,” Belleville said. “I rushed right over.”
Crews contained the fire within 40 minutes and extinguished it shortly after 4 p.m.
The Red Cross provided shelter for the displaced residents. Three units were completely gutted and will need to be rebuilt. The other four sustained smoke and water damage and will not be inhabitable for at least two days, Belleville said.
More than 30 engine companies responded to the blaze. Local fire marshals are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire, but foul play is not suspected, according to Belleville.