Shortly after 3:40 p.m. on July 6, firefighters responded to a 911 caller who reported flames coming from a dryer on a balcony at 642 Ocean Lane. After they learned what they were up against, firefighters called additional units to the three-story apartment complex.
The two-alarm blaze proved to be a challenge, according to Imperial Beach fire chief Tom Clark: “A narrow alley, power lines above, a stairway to go up. No easy access, we had to take hoses up ladders set against second-floor balconies to get to the fire. We had a fire actually blow out windows, preventing firefighters from getting inside.”
A resident of the building, who did not want to be identified, said, “No washer and dryers are supposed to be in the units,” then pointed up to the charred dryer sitting on the second-floor balcony. “That dryer is illegal.”
Asked about the dryer, Chief Clark said, “It could have been a dryer or it could have been a barbeque. Fire investigators will determine the origin of the fire.”
Over 40 firefighters from six different agencies respond to the blaze, which caused an estimated $2 million in damages. Two of the units were destroyed by fire, two from heavy smoke, and one from water. No firefighters or civilians were injured, but a cat died and sheriff’s deputies had to assist a disabled man on the second floor to safety.