Gustine fire displaces family of eight

12/28/2012 3:05 PM

12/29/2012 1:05 AM

Fire officials saved a family of eight after a cooking fire broke out inside their Gustine home, according to Gabriel Santos, Merced County Fire Department spokesman.

Cal Fire and the Gustine City Fire Department responded to the one-story home on the 1400 block of Lucerne Avenue around 6 p.m. Thursday.

Firefighters saw light smoke coming from the eves of the roof and immediately began contacting the occupants.

The tenants reported that all five children, two adult females and one adult male were out of the home.

One of the female adults told fire crews that the blaze started in the kitchen area and she extinguishing the fire using a garden hose.

She was treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation.

A total of twelve Fire Department personnel responded to the fire, including three fire engines and one Battalion Chief. The blaze was contained within twenty minutes with no injuries to Fire Department personnel.

Santos said the quick response by fire crews stopped by fire from spreading to the remainder of the home.

However, there was significant damage to kitchen and living area with an estimated loss of about $40,000.

“We are fortunate that all occupants exited the structure without sustaining any life threatening injuries,” said Brian White, Fire Apparatus Engineer.

Cal Fire investigators determined the cause of the fire to be a “cooking fire” — saying unattended vegetable oil was heated to the point of ignition while the victims were preparing dinner.

The fire started on the stove top but quickly spread to the adjoining areas of the kitchen, Santos said.

Santos said homeowners should remain alert while cooking and ensure that their home has functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Earlier this year, two adults died in a residential structure fire in Gustine, officials said.

The displaced occupants were put in a hotel for the night, arranged by Red Cross.

Community members have started showing their support by providing basic home furnishings such as tables, chairs and other furniture.

-- Ramona Giwargis

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