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Fourplex fire in North Auburn displaces at least 13

Early morning blaze under investigation
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - At least 13 people safely escaped the flames and smoke as a North Auburn fourplex caught fire and burned Saturday.

By Monday, victims were allowed to return to the charred 3567 Galena Drive building. The fire drew 10 fire crews and was initially reported by a resident of the nearby Snowcap View condominiums, who saw the flames.

One of the four units in the two-story building was destroyed while others were damaged by smoke and fire, Cal Fire public information officer Lynne Tolmachoff said Monday.

The first report of the fire came in at 3:37 a.m. and the initial engine crew arrived 10 minutes later, Tolmachoff said. Cause of the blaze was still under investigation Monday.

Natasha Jackson returned to her rented Galena Drive fourplex unit Monday to retrieve what was salvageable.

Jackson, a 1½ year resident of the Auburn Greens fourplex, said she woke up and smelled smoke. Her carbon monoxide alarm also went off, alerting her to the danger.

But perhaps more telling were the sounds of her neighbor’s screams in the darkness.

“She was screaming in Spanish to her little boy, ‘Jump!’ to jump out the window,” Jackson said. “When I ran upstairs I could see the flames from the neighbor’s window.”

Jackson managed to get all four of her children – ages 5 to 17 – outside safely. But Jackson said her own efforts likely resulted in her having to go to the hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

Counting all the occupants of the other units, Jackson estimated 13 people were inside Saturday when the fire started. All got out alive and – other than herself – uninjured. Tolmoachoff confirmed that there was just one injury from smoke inhalation.

Jackson said she was planning to move out in the new year and had just canceled her renter’s insurance.

“I’m kicking myself for that but I feel blessed – the kids are healthy,” Jackson said. “It’s so close to Christmas. But we’re here.”

In another unit, Maria Alonso, 21 and Manuel Gasco, 23, said they were facing the challenge of finding a new place to live.

“We were living with my parents and then had just got our own place three months ago,” Alonso said. “Now we’re going to have to start over again.”

Gasca was in the fourplex with 2-year-old daughter Isabella Gasca, when he was alerted by emergency personnel banging at his front door. Alonso was working a night shift.

Gasca and the baby escaped with basically the clothes they were wearing, Alonso said.

Tolmachoff said the Red Cross was called in to help displaced occupants cope with the ramifications of the fire. Jackson said neighbors helped her family out with socks for their bare feet and then flip-flops.

As well as the fourplex and the contents damaged in the blaze, two vehicles parked outside also sustained severe fire damage, Tolmachoff said.