Santa Cruz Fire Goes Unnoticed for Hours

Saturday, Apr 30, 2011  |  Updated 7:47 AM PDT
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Santa Cruz Fire Goes Unnoticed for Hours

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Six engine companies were called in to fight the fire at Cliff Drive.

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A fire that burned undetected for hours in Santa Cruz Friday afternoon before firefighters were alerted caused approximately $325,000 in damage, officials said.

No injuries were reported, and the occupants were not home.

Three fire departments -- from Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and the county's Central Fire Protection District -- responded at 1:19 p.m. to the home at 404 W. Cliff Drive, where the first responders found a large two-and-a-half-story home with "a moderate amount" of smoke coming from its attic.

The home's windows and doors were extremely hot to the touch, according to the Santa Cruz Fire Department. A ladder truck crew assigned to the roof cut a hole to ventilate the hot gases and enable firefighters to enter the smoke-filled structure.

Navigating the home, firefighters found most of the fire burning in a closet below stairs leading to the second story. Because the fire was taxing the resources of the firefighters on site, two additional engine companies -- for a total of six -- were called in from the University of California, Santa Cruz and from the fire protection district.

Even though the main fire was controlled, flames spread under the house and extensive work was needed to open the floor from the home's interior, fire officials said.

The house sustained extensive heat and smoke damage, causing an estimated $175,000 in structural damage and an additional $150,000 in damage to its contents.

The 23 firefighters, who remained on the scene for four hours to salvage the contents and monitor hot spots and hidden fires, were able to protect about $750,000 worth of structure and property.

An investigation revealed that the fire was accidental and electrical in nature.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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