Two SJ Fires on July 4; One Home Destroyed

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A look into the rash of emergency calls San Jose firefighters responded to related to Fourth of July festivities. George Kiriyama reports.

    Saloeum Chahoeun sat across the street on Thursday, just staring at the charred remains of her home. Tears streamed down her face.

    "I've lived here for 20 years. There's nothing left," Chahoeun said.
     
    She and her family were preparing a 4th of July dinner at their home on Sydney Drive in northeast San Jose. They were using propane in the backyard. Five minutes after turning it on, it exploded. The fire spread quickly. Their home was destroyed and three others were damage in two separate fires about dinnertime.

    "It's just unbelievable," said Kathy Chahoeun, Saloeum's niece. "The fire. Just goes so quick. It's just a blink of your eyes. A total loss of the house.

    The next door neighbor was worried the flames would hop onto their home.

    "You could just see the smoke coming from like the middle of the house, coming to us because the wind was blowing it this way," Whitney Payne said. "The smoke was black and thick and white. The fire kept getting closer and closer."

    As the firefighters were mopping on Sydney Drive, another fire broke out two blocks away on Lisbon Drive. Three Cypress trees in a backyard went up in flames. The cause? A bottle rocket. The first fire was reported about 5:30 p.m., the second about 7:30 p.m.

    "The fireworks went up, it caught in our trees and they just went up like that," Homeowner Brenda Evans said.

    Her husband was on the top of their roof. Spraying it down. Keeping it cool. The wind blew embers onto their roof and their backyard. For a few minutes, it was a very dangerous situation and then the firefighters showed up and the fire was killed. Kimo Huynh lives on the corner and heard the bottle rocket whoosh over his home.  

    "It was pretty bad. Anything that's that high a few feet away from my house...it's pretty scary," Huynh said.