OCEANSIDE — A two-alarm fire brought 63 area firefighters to 406 Los Arbolitos Blvd. on May 19. Firefighters arrived four minutes after the fire started and had to cut through the roof to ventilate the two-story building and put out the blaze.
The fire ran the full span of the attic between four adjoined condominiums. Flames shot up 20 feet through the roof.
An aggressive attack by firefighters brought the blaze under control within an hour.
The fire left 21 residents displaced. Residents of the four condominiums that were engulfed by the fire will not be able to reoccupy their homes for two to three months. Structural damage is estimated at $400,000.
A resident, who declined to state her name, returned to her home on May 21 to access the damage.
“It’s devastating,” she said. “I have to be strong to get through it.”
The cause of the incident was determined to be an unlicensed, uninsured plumber who was hired by one of the residents to repair a leaking copper pipe.
The fire started in a wall after the plumber used a blowtorch to solder a repair.
“Apparently the guy was hired off Craigslist, with no license, not bonded, with no insured,” Ron Owens, fire investigator, said. The fire was not visible initially. “After he left the fire went up like a chimney,” Owens said.
“This was a very expensive fire caused by a failed attempt to effect a very cheap repair,” Rob Dunham, fire battalion chief, said.
The city may press charges against the plumber for working without a license.