San Luis Obispo, CA – David Sneed, The Tribune – A gas explosion and fire destroyed the kitchen of a San Luis Obispo studio apartment early Friday morning.
All seven occupants of the four-unit complex at 1055 Pacific St. were safely evacuated from the building, including the woman who lives in the unit where the fire originated. Authorities ruled the blaze an accident.
The woman, whose name was unavailable Friday, turned the oven on after she came home late the previous evening without lighting the pilot light, and closed the door to the kitchen. She apparently was distracted and forgot that the oven was on, said John Madden, fire inspector.
Gas built up in the kitchen overnight and was eventually ignited by a pilot light for the burners on the top of the stove. The resulting explosion was strong enough to push the back wall of the apartment out 4 inches and ignite all of the combustible material in the kitchen.
“She (the occupant) was extremely fortunate,” Madden said. “If she hadn’t closed that door to the kitchen, it would have been a completely different set of circumstances.”
The explosion also caused the ceiling drywall in the apartment below to collapse into a bedroom. The resident in that apartment received a bump on his leg from the falling drywall and sought medical attention.
Firefighters received the call at 5:27 a.m. When they arrived on the scene, the fire had spread to the attic. They were able to extinguish the blaze in less than 10 minutes.
Damage is estimated at $20,000 to the apartment and the loss of another $4,000 in personal items.
It is unclear when the seven occupants will be allowed to return to their homes, Madden said. The attic fire destroyed electrical wiring. The insurance company will have to determine how soon the damage can be repaired.