A fire at the Westwinds Apartments complex yesterday morning forced dozens of tenants to flee their flats, displaced two UCSB students and caused over $35,000 in damage.
Three fire engines from the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. arrived at 6657 El Colegio Rd. at 11:10 a.m. on Monday to extinguish the flames coming out of an unoccupied apartment on the first floor. Public Information Officer Captain Keith Cullom said the two tenants living in the apartment were not on the property when the fire occurred. No one was injured.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Regardless of what started the fire, however, firefighters at the scene chastised the returning occupants for having no batteries in any of the three smoke detectors in their apartment.
Cullom said the apartment complex’s gas and electricity were shut off during the fire suppression effort and utility companies were working Monday afternoon to restore services. As for the displaced tenants, the Red Cross is currently assisting them until other arrangements can be made.
Isla Vista Foot Patrol Sgt. Craig Bonner said the blaze took firefighters approximately 10 minutes to extinguish. About half of the two-story complex’s 150 residents were evacuated for a few hours following the fire, he said.
Michael Davis, an undeclared second-year who lives the complex, said he was unaware of the fire until firefighters evacuated him and his neighbors.
“I woke up this morning and was showering when I heard sirens, which is usual since we live next to an old folks home and people are always croaking and stuff,” Davis said.
Dustin Worch, a second-year mechanical engineering major, lives in the apartment neighboring the unit that caught fire and was home when the blaze broke out.
“I heard a lot of noise and someone was breaking the window,” Worch said. “A man from another complex saw the fire start and broke in and [tried to] fire extinguish it out.”
– Nikki Moore contributed to this report