H-LOS ALAMOS

Mar 9, 2011 9:46 PM by Ariel Wesler

Fire in Los Alamos started behind clothes dryer

Investigators say an exhaust port attached to a clothes dryer is responsible for starting this morning's raging fire in Los Alamos.

The fire left eleven people homeless. Firefighters got the call just after 9:30 this morning. They rushed over to the Cottonwood Glen Complex on Wickenden Street in Los Alamos. They spent the next hour fighting intense flames.

Neighbor photos show the intensity of the fire that forced 11 people from their townhomes in Los Alamos.

"It went from smoke coming out the front door to windows popping and flames coming out," said Paul Cavanagh.

He lives just a few doors down from the fast-moving flames and saw it all unfold.

"Ran around knocking on doors, trying to get people out because there was a time where it looked like it could have jumped to the set of four back there," Cavanagh said.

When Santa Barbara County firefighters arrived on scene, flames and smoke engulfed the entire building with two attached units-front and back.

Investigators say the fire started on the first floor behind the dryer and quickly spread to the second story.

"It's due to the building construction, the time of day, the heat outside," said Russ Sechler with Santa Barbara County Fire.

Four people were in the front unit at the time, heard the smoke detector go off, and got out safely.

Firefighters say seven people live in the front unit, including a woman who is nearly 9 months pregnant.>

"They did evaluate her for smoke inhalation," Sechler said.

Amy Willis was at work when she heard about the fire.

"I came here and found out it was actually the condo that attaches to the one that we live in," Willis said.

She's thankful no one was home, but just hopes some of her stuff will be saved.

"It was just my daughters birthday, and she got a bunch of new toys and new clothes and things and we were just in the process of putting them away," Willis said.

The red cross was also on scene to help the fire victims. The damage extended beyond those two units. The people living in unit next door told me they lost power after the fire melted the electrical gauge on the side of their house.

Firefighters say make sure you have someone qualified checking the gas inlets to your dryer. Keep your lint screen clean and make sure nothing is blocking your dryer's exhaust port.

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