H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Mar 6, 2012 10:28 PM by Nikki Ibarra

San Luis Obispo house fire raises questions about safety codes

A fire that swept through a San Luis Obispo house over the weekend has raised questions about the safety of older homes in the city.

Nine people escaped the burning home on Johnson Avenue early Sunday morning. The Red Cross said one woman was transferred from a local hospital to a burn center in Fresno.

The City of San Luis Obispo Fire Department said there is still no absolute cause, but they are focusing on the front porch; where one person was reportedly smoking a cigarette.

According to the fire department, there are many older homes throughout the city and the entire Central Coast. The department said the house is about 100 years old, and that it does follow the codes of when it was built.

"Many of our homes were built when there were no building codes," said Roger Maggio, fire marshall for the City of San Luis Obispo Fire Department.

It wasn't until after World War II that building codes were enforced. Before that, many homes were built by what they called, balloon frame construction. Basically, the home had no fire blocking walls, causing the fire to quickly spread.

"The way the fire spread is once it broke out from the porch, it got into the walls and once it got into the walls, it spread upward into the attic. [Because] there were no, what we call, fire blocking walls," said Fire Marshall Maggio.

The fire department said all new homes are required to have fire blocking walls in each level. Fire Marshall Maggio said the walls in the Johnson Avenue home were a major contributor to the spread of the fire.

According to the California Building Standards Commission, all homes and townhouses built after January 1, 2011 must have a fire sprinkler system. If your home was built before that, the fire department said there's no requirement to put fire sprinklers in.

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