According to Chief Hugh Henderson of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD), crews were called to the scene of the structure fire at 2:26 a.m. A second alarm sounded at 2:34, the first engine arriving on site at 2:43. Firefighters found a single-story house fully engulfed in flames that were jumping to houses on either side of the structure.
Ten engines, four water tenders, four chiefs and more than 40 personnel responded to the blaze, the cause of which is still under investigation. According to Henderson, one victim was treated at the site for smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.
“We were able to get one of the neighboring houses to the east under control pretty quickly and that may be salvageable,” said Henderson. “But the other two houses are a total loss. We had a power line drop onto one of the houses, which hampered our efforts.”
No power outages were reported in the area.
Out-of-towner Edgar Lee, who was staying in one of the neighboring houses not affected by the fire, reported that he and his brother were asleep when the blaze began. “We were awoken by people yelling and screaming,” said Lee. “So we got up and assisted in hosing down the houses.”
Since the Bethel Island fire station was shuttered in July, Station 94 in Knightsen has become the island’s go-to station. The response time to the Wednesday fire was slightly more than 15 minutes.
“The difference between the Bethel Island station being open one mile away and the Knightsen station five miles away makes a difference,” said Henderson. “Sure, there’s an impact.”
The fire was under control by 6:45 a.m. but hot spots continued to flare up throughout the morning. Crews were expected to remain on scene most of the day.
Art Michel contributed to this story.