As many as 10 people homeless after two-alarm fire

Fire destroyed two condominiums and damaged a third Saturday night, leaving about10 people homeless.

The fire broke out shortly after 7 p.m. in one of the three condo units on the 900 block of Fourth Street and started spreading through a common attic above the homes as it gutted the first condo.

The two-alarm fire burned for nearly an hour before it was knocked down. Engines from Taft, Maricopa and Fellows were backed by three more engines from Buttonwillow, Old River and the Rosedale area of northwest Bakersfield.

Kern County Fire Battalion Chief Heidi Dinkler wouldn't comment on which unit the fire started in or the cause, which is under investigation, but witnesses said it started at 918 Fourth Street, the condo that was destroyed.

There were no injuries directly related to the fire, but on person fell outside while the fire burned.

Neighbor Larry Dillard, who lives at 920 Fourth, said he was taking the garbage out when he noticed the fire, and rushed back into the house to get his mother, who was in a wheelchair, to safety.

"I smelled smoke and the saw some smoke and pow! – the paint cans started exploding," Dillard said.

His mother stayed across the street from the fire, wrapped in blankets, for more than hour before they found a place to stay for the night.
Dinkler said three people lived in 918 Fourth, Dillard and his mother were living in 920 and a family lived at 922.

The 922 Fourth condo sustained smoke damage but escaped major fire damage, Dinkler said.
Firefighters were able to save some of the Dillard's belongings but there was heavy fire damage in that unit, and the first unit and its contents were destroyed.

Firefighter climbed to the roof of the condo and cut a ventilation trench to halt the spread of the fire in the attic, Dinkler said.

A 3-car garage behind the condos sustained some minor fire damage to the eaves.

The loss figure for the fire has not yet been determined.

Dinkler said an arson investigator was called to determine the cause, but that doesn't necessarily mean the fire was of suspicious origin