Santa Paula Times

Candle fire in converted garage badly damages structure, contents

November 23, 2011
Santa Paula News

A candle started a fire Thursday evening that destroyed a detached garage where a man had been staying while he reportedly worked on the main house.

According to Santa Paula Fire Captain Steve Lazenby, the report of a structure fire came in at 9:44 p.m. October 27 at 116 N. Oak Street off East Main Street and near Rancho Sunset Market.

Santa Paula Fire Engines 81 and 82 as well as Ventura County Fire Department Engine 26 and Battalion 5 were dispatched to the scene, as was Santa Paula Police. “Upon Engine 81’s arrival on scene,” three minutes after the initial call, “moderate smoke was seen coming from the back of the house” and, Lazenby said, “Upon further investigation it was found that the fire was confined to a detached garage to the rear of the house... and the contents of the structure were well involved in fire.”

Santa Paula Fire personnel knocked the fire down in about 10 minutes.

Lazenby said the garage was found to be an illegally converted residence with a single male occupant. “The male occupant stated that he had been burning a candle and it had caught a pillow on fire and the fire had spread to the other contents of the building,” which had been extensively renovated.

The structure, said Lazenby, is “corrugated tin exterior with electrical, plumbing and finished dry wall on the interior,” although the ceiling was unfinished and open to the under side of the roof and the ceiling joists. “The contents of the structure consisted of a few cabinets and personal items and a mattress on the floor, with a large collection of construction tools and supplies,” and the resident told firefighters he “was sleeping in the building and working on the house.”

Firefighters secured the utilities at the panel and several areas of dry wall were pulled down during overhaul on the interior to confirm there was no extension of fire to the walls. Lazenby said fire and police personnel advised the resident he could not return to the converted garage or stay in the front house.

“The electrical box and the entrances to both structures were taped off with caution tape; all units cleared the incident” at about 10:30 p.m. and about an hour later public safety personnel checked the residence again and found it still secure and free of any hot spots.

There was no estimate of damages.