Investigators working on cause of townhouse fire

Investigators working on cause of townhouse fire

CHICO, Calif. - Chico fire investigators spent Tuesday, working to determine what cause a fire that severely damaged a row of five units at the Manzanita Gardens Townhouses.

The fire on Manzanita Avenue was reported around 4:45 p.m. Monday, prompting a huge response from local fire resources.

Every engine in the Chico Fire Department rushed to the scene and were aided by firefighters from Butte County Fire and CAL FIRE. In all, 44 firefighters were on the scene fighting the blaze that spread through an attic and damaged five townhouses.

On Tuesday, fire investigators with the Chico Fire Department combed the aftermath looking for clues that might tell them how the blaze started.

Initial reports are that it began on the back patio of the middle townhouse, Unit 3, and quickly spreading to an adjacent patio and into the building.

When asked if the fire started inside or outside the patio, Chico Fire's Marie Fickert responded, "Well at this point the fire is under very preliminary investigation, so we aren't going to be releasing anything specific until we come to a definite conclusion."

Investigators have also interviewed neighbors and most of the victims of the fire to see what kind of information might lead to a solid conclusion.

However, as of Tuesday afternoon, they had not yet found the people who live in the unit where the fire started.

Fickert says that isn't necessarily suspicious.

"It's not unusual," Fickert says. "When people have their cell phone burn up, it's very hard to contact people, especially if we don't know exactly where they are staying."

None of the 22 people who lived in the townhouses were injured in the fire, although they did lose much of their belongings. And any items that did survive the fire aren't accessible because fire investigators have blocked off the buildings.

On Tuesday, donations began piling up outside of the property manager's office. People are urged to bring items there if they wish to help.

Donations are also being accepted at Heroes Corner Games in Chico, where one of the victims was when the fire started.

A fund to aid the fire victims has also been set up at Chase Bank. Those who wish to donate can go into any Chase and tell workers they'd like to donate to Manzanita Gardens fire victims.

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