Firefighters responded to an apartment fire at 6538 Sabado Tarde yesterday afternoon, where flames erupted after a resident accidentally left his stove on with oil sitting on it.
According to Captain Mark Beeson of the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept., officials were first alerted to the incident after onlookers from an adjacent street noticed smoke and called 9-1-1. The department responded by sending five fire engines, a truck company and a battalion chief to contain the flames and protect the five other apartment units in the building.
“There was the possibility that the fire would spread, but it was contained to just the one unit,” Beeson said.
UCSB student Jun Christopherson, the resident of the apartment, blamed absent-mindedness for the fire and said he accidentally left for class midway through the cooking process.
“It’s super embarrassing – I can only say that I was thinking about 10 different things at once,” Christopherson said. “I was starting to make chicken tenders, and then I was like, ‘Oh! I have to go to class,’ and I just left and forgot it.”
Christopherson said that when he got out of math class he received a message from his apartment broker telling him that his unit had burned down.
Fortunately, only half the apartment actually burned down, with most of the damage contained to the kitchen and part of his bedroom. According to Christopherson, the firefighters estimated damages to be around $25,000.
“Just about a fourth of my room was burned, and the kitchen,” Christopherson said. “All the important stuff – my bed and my couch – were fine.”
Christopherson added that although many of his personal items were destroyed in the flames – including half of his television and the entirety of his laptop – he believed that insurance would largely cover the costs of the damages. Still, he said that he would be required to move out of his house for a few days while repairs were made.
Both Beeson and Christopherson credit the functioning smoke alarms at the apartment for the rapid response from emergency crews. Captain Beeson advised that if I.V. residents hear smoke alarms in the future, regardless of where they are, they should call 9-1-1 immediately.
“The resident wasn’t home at the time the fire started, but the neighbors heard it,” Beeson said. “Instead of calling 9-1-1, they called their landlord and informed them of the incident. It was actually people in the street that alerted us first.”
For his part, Christopherson advises that other I.V. residents make sure their alarms are in working order. Ultimately, however, he said that the incident could have been avoided entirely if he had just not gone to class.
“I didn’t go to math class all last week,” he said. “Then, the one day I decide to go, this happens. I should have just stayed home.”