Explosion, fire damage Atascadero apartment building

ATASCADERO — Authorities received several reports of an explosion at an apartment complex on the 8400 block of San Andres Avenue just after 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. Officers with the Atascadero Police Department were the first to arrive and found the structure fully involved with the fire having started in No. 4 unit and spread to the other four apartments.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately apparent and is still under investigation.

"It could be gas, it could be something else, it could be something criminal, but we're treating it like a crime right now until we can prove otherwise," said Atascadero Police Department Commander Joe Allen.

"I don't believe anybody was injured because the ambulance crew is still here with their stretcher and they haven't left," Allen added. "Unless somebody self-transported."

City officials later confirmed that there were no injuries as a result of the explosion or the fire although residents at four of the five apartments were home when the blaze began. The fire displaced four families. The American Red Cross has been notified and will assist with emergency services for the families.

In addition to the APD, responding emergency personnel included firefighters from Atascadero, Paso Robles, Templeton and Atascadero State Hospital along with paramedics from San Luis Ambulance and officers from the California Highway Patrol.

According to Deputy City Manager Terrie Banish, the fire was contained around 8:45 a.m. but flare ups kept fire crews chasing the fire through the building's attic for another hour.

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