Six people – four of them firefighters – were injured on Friday, April 30 after a fire tore through at least two homes in Orange, prompting a massive response.
Multiple 911 callers reported the blaze at 211 S. Earlham Street just before 12:45 p.m., the Orange City Fire Department said. The first units on scene found a pickup truck fully engulfed in flames parked on the street outside a home, said Fire Captain Ryan O’Connor.
The fire grew and spread between two houses, one of which had another building in the backyard, O’Connor said.
A dog was killed, and, in all, some 20 people were displaced, he said.
The blaze was first graded as a two-alarm fire but then was upgraded to a 4-alarm one just before 2 p.m., meaning that several more fire units were called for backup.
As around 80 firefighters battled the blaze, three of them were shocked by electrical lines, O’Connor said. The shocks were not serious, but they were taken to hospitals as a precaution. A fourth firefighter was also hospitalized, for heat exhaustion.
O’Connor said all the firefighters were in good condition. Two other people were treated on scene for smoke inhalation and also were in good condition, officials said.
Fire crews were up against Friday’s high temperatures, low humidity and brisk wind, which was already going to pose a fire risk throughout the region. The National Weather Service predicted Orange would reach a high of 92 degrees on Friday.
It took firefighters about one hour to get the blaze under control. It primarily damaged two houses next to each other, leaving them blackened.
Chris De Rosas, a resident of one of the two damaged homes, waited across the street from behind yellow tape with his family.
He was in the house next to the one where the blaze started, which he shares with his parents, sister, brother and cousin.
De Rosas’s sister was showering when she saw the smoke from the window and ran out to notify the others.
“I actually saw the flames in my face,” he said. His parents weren’t home at the time but the rest of them escaped unharmed.
“We got out just in time,” De Rosas said.
Miguel Lopez, who lives across the street, saw De Rosas’s family running out of their home.
Shortly before, he’d been in his front yard when he noticed the smoke.
“I thought it was a barbecue at first,” Lopez said. “Then I saw the smoke turn black.”
Lopez, one of the 911 callers, tried to steer people clear of the burning area. He said he heard pops during the fire, and De Rosas said he heard a small explosion.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, O’Connor said.