Atascadero apartment fire caused by candle left unattended

ATASCADERO — According to Atascadero Fire Chief Casey Bryson, it was an unattended candle that caused a fire at an Atascadero apartment complex earlier this month.

The fire, on the 8400 block of San Andres Avenue, damaged four units, displacing four families, and was caused by a citronella candle left burning on a plastic table on the front porch of one of the units. 

“Don’t leave candles on,” Bryson said. “It’s a good reminder for that one.”

Police and fire personnel responded to the fire after receiving reports of an “explosion,” but Atascadero City Manager Rachelle Rickard later said it was “really more of a pop.”

“This was significant in that it displaced four family units,” Bryson said. “So any time that happens it is a significant event in Atascadero.”

Bryson said that the fire happened right in the middle of a shift change at the Atascadero Fire Department, which meant that they were able to respond with even more personnel than they normally would.

“We had incoming and outgoing crews responding, so we were able to start with quite a few people,” he said.

The first arriving firefighters saw smoke and fire in a downstairs apartment window and they were initially able to hold the fire to that unit, but it eventually took hold in the shared attic and started to spread, Bryson said.

“Once that happens, all four units were basically damaged at that point,” he said. “In that case our priority was to make sure that people are out, so they’re going to go into rescue mode basically.”

Bryson said that no one was injured in the incident and five occupants who were in the unit where the fire started were able to escape through a window.

“The entire building, which is a four-plex, basically is non-livable, but we did keep it to that building and a lot of personal belongings were saved, we were able to salvage a lot,” Bryson said. “All-in-all it was a good operation, no one was hurt.”

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