A garage converted into living space erupted into flames at 1010 R Street on Wednesday, killing a small dog and displacing six people who lived there.
Fortunately, investigators with the Merced Fire Department said no people were hurt in the blaze.
Firefighters responded to the scene shortly after 9 a.m. and found the peach painted structure engulfed in heavy flames and smoke. The blaze was contained in less than 20 minutes, according to Battalion Chief Tom McCall.
McCall said one person was asleep inside of the home when the fire started.
The cause of the fire remains unknown, although McCall said it does not appear to be intentional.
The structure was in violation of city code, McCall said, as the substandard building was a detached garage that had been converted into a home with two separate living areas. Three people lived inside each living area, McCall said.
McCall said the building had sub-standard wiring, although that hasn’t been pinned down as the cause of the fire. There were also makeshift cooking appliances inside of the building, including a propane tank connected to a stove top, McCall said.
Firefighters removed several charred items from the gutted garage, including burned mattresses, a melted stereo system, blackened propane tanks and destroyed desks and tables.
A city animal control officer at the scene carried away the carcass of a small dog in a plastic bag. Firefighters believe the dog was killed in the fire.
Charles Collins, a 44-year-old man who lives in the area, said he was walking outside when he saw smoke coming from the building. He ran to a nearby liquor store and told the attendant to call 911.
Collins ran back to the building, pushed open the front door and began knocking on windows, hoping that no one was inside the building. He then ran to the back of the structure, where he reported seeing people trying to carry clothes and other items from the building. “I told them to get out,” Collins said.
McCall said damage to the structure is estimated at $20,000.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org