The Red Cross is assisting 22 people displaced by a fire that burned 5 townhouses Monday.
A fence fire was reported at the Manzanita Gardens townhouse complex at 1462 Manzanita Ave. behind Pleasant Valley High School at about 4:45 p.m. From there it spread to the nearby building, burning 5 units.
Witnesses said they heard several explosions about 4:45 p.m. coming from the complex.
The building was fully engulfed when firefighters from both the Chico Fire Department and CAL FIRE arrived.
Tina Fraga, a woman at the scene, described what she saw after hearing the explosions.
“I was sitting in my chair and my husband came running down the stairs telling me ‘there’s a fire in the backyard’ so I went to check,” Fraga said. “There was a big plume of black smoke, then six to ten explosions. I told my husband to call 911.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Fraga said it could be human-caused.
“A guy said his son had started the fire,” Fraga said. “He didn’t know what the cause of it was.”
No injuries have been reported and fire officials said 2 cats in one of the townhouses were safely recovered.
Fraga said her townhouse was saved, but did suffer some damage when firefighters had to cut a hole in the roof.
"I'm worried about everybody else that did lose stuff, you know, because it's devastating," she said.