Contra Costa County

3 Homes Destroyed in Bethel Island Blaze

Response took longer than usual as the island has no fire department of its own

Three homes were destroyed in a fire Thursday evening in unincorporated Contra Costa County, a battalion chief said.

Firefighters were called at 5:50 p.m. by someone who said a house in the 2700 block of Taylor Road was on fire with flames coming out of all the windows, Battalion Chief Ross Macumber, with the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, said.

En route, firefighters saw a large column of smoke and arrived to find three single-family homes on Bethel Island on fire.

Macumber said crews immediately called for a second alarm. A total of 10 engines and 30 firefighters responded to the scene, but it took a while for them to arrive as Bethel Island doesn't have its own fire department.

The one fire house on the island shut down two years ago after voters rejected several bond measures that would have kept the station open and funded retrofitting. 

"We have a fire pump hooked up to the water itself in the Delta. We have to turn it on to use it but there’s no one here to operate it nothing we can do," said Cole Duarte, whose house was one of those destroyed. "You have to remember we’re all still standing that’s the main thing."

As of 8 p.m., all forward progress had been stopped, Macumber said, and crews had contained the blaze to the three homes.

No one was injured, and everyone had been accounted for. At least two people were displaced by the fire.

Macumber didn't know the cause of the blaze. Firefighters were still putting water of the homes, he said.

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.

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