Pleasant Hill Fire Claims 2 Lives

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bob Redell / NBC Bay Area

    A neighbor says that a young couple killed in an early morning apartment fire in Martinez were smokers, but the investigator doesn't know yet if that played a role.

    Thje fire department believes the blaze started downstairs, and that the couple tried to escape an upstairs bedroom, but died there.

    The fire at the Briar's Apartments was already fully involved when firefighters arrived around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, leading the department to believe it had already been burning for at least 30 minutes.

    Part of the investigation will focus on whether or not there was a smoke detector. It's not clear if the victims died trying to escape or in their sleep.

    A friend said the couple was in their early 20s -- a boyfriend and girlfriend who had recently moved in with each other.

    Two other people were treated and released for smoke inhalation. The fire also damaged a neighboring unit.

    The Red Cross is helping the 60 people who have been evacuated with temporary living arrangements.