Apartment fire at 4500 Stockton Boulevard, Sacramento, Dec. 5, 2013 (Courtesy George Warren/News10)
One of those receiving medical treatment at apartment fire at 4500 Stockton Boulevard, Sacramento, Dec. 5, 2013 Courtesy Chrissman)
SACRAMENTO - A two-alarm fire at a boarded-up house on the 4500 block of Stockton Boulevard Thursday afternoon left one person dead and three people injured.
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Sacramento Fire Department Interim Fire Chief Dan Haverty said four people who were in the house were transported to UC Davis Medical Center. A witness said one of the individuals appeared to be badly burned.
The house is familiar to firefighters because they have made repeated calls there. It's next to other boarded up properties that have had problems with squatters. But firefighters said out of all the past calls to the home, this is the first time anyone has been hurt.
The house is clearly in no shape for anyone to live in it now, and few considered it inhabitable even before the fire. Nonetheless neighbors knew people were staying there, so when the flames broke out, people nearby ran to help.
"We first kicked the back door in. That's when we saw that the fire was really bad, so we went around the side," Derique Warren said. "That's where him and another one of my cousins had pulled somebody out of the side of the house, and apparently there was supposed to be somebody else in there."
"I ran over there and started hopping, pulling on the boards, and when we got the first board off of the door, smoke just started rolling out really black, and I could hear people were inside," Sam Hernandez added.
Firefighters found two men and two women all suffering from either burns or smoke inhalation when paramedics took them to the hospital.
One of the individuals, Rosalea Trejo, 35, died shortly after being taken to the hospital.
"Those are my friends. Those are my best friends. All four of them," Nikisha Lynch said.
Lynch didn't want to identify her friends by name, but said they'd been staying there a while.
"The house is abandoned, but they have water. They have heat. There wasn't no electricity, okay. They had beds," Lynch explained. "It was just a regular house. He was fixing on the house while he was staying there."
Firefighters have not identified the cause of the fire, and it isn't clear whether the victims had permission from the owner to stay in the home. Who owns the home is also unclear. County records show a trust as the owner, but News10 was not able to contact anyone associated with the trust. As for the victims, their identities and updated conditions have not been released.
"People trying to stay out of the cold, need somewhere to stay. They don't do nothing to nobody, don't bother nobody, so nobody minds," Warren said.
Even though some of those friends and neighbors may have thought there was no harm staying in that abandoned home, firefighters stressed this is an important reminder that squatters who try to stay in abandoned properties could be putting themselves and others at risk, and they should use public warming centers instead.