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Fire engulfs Lodi apartment

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Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013 11:52 am

Lodi firefighters quickly put out a structure fire that completely engulfed an apartment on Monday morning on the 400 block of Chestnut Street.

While crews are still investigating the cause of the fire, it likely started from food burning on the stove around 10:30 a.m., according to Lodi Fire Chief Larry Rooney.

“It just got out of hand,” Rooney said.

Most of the damage was contained to the kitchen, allowing neighboring apartments to escape relatively unharmed.

“There was more damage to the kitchen than anywhere else,” Rooney said.

There were no injuries, but a cat that lived in the apartment that caught fire was unable to escape, Rooney said. The fire also burned a power line, shutting off power to the immediate area.

All residents were evacuated, but some were able to return by Monday afternoon.

Paul Crouch and Emilia Welsh, who live directly beneath the charred apartment, were two of the first people to escape, with their dog Misty.

The man who lived in the apartment that went up in flames ran downstairs and told Crouch and Welsh they needed to evacuate.

“He knocked on our door and said his apartment had caught fire,” Crouch said. “So we went outside and now we’re waiting for (the fire department) to tell us we can go back inside.”

Natallie del Carmen, 13, and her brother Isaac, 17, live directly across the street from the apartment complex.

They stood on the street, along with dozens of neighbors, watching the fire grow and blanket the neighborhood in smoke.

After several minutes, as the apartment quickly filled with flames, Natallie and Isaac heard a loud “pop,” they said. With that noise, the blaze burst out of every window, sending neighbors scattering as shattered glass flew through the air.

“It was really scary,” Natallie del Carmen said.

Fire crews were quickly on scene and had the fire under control within 10 minutes, Rooney said. The family who lived in the apartment refused to comment.

Inside, the apartment was completely destroyed.

Firefighters spent the rest of the morning and afternoon tearing apart the walls and roof, looking for any remaining small flames.

“We’ll just have to make sure the whole apartment is gutted,” Rooney said.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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