Posted: 04/16/2013 08:28:33 AM PDT
Updated: 04/16/2013 02:01:34 PM PDT
SAN JOSE -- Two separate fires claimed the lives of three people Monday night, including a 7-year-old girl, one of the deadliest fire-related episodes in recent history.
Although San Jose fire officials did not immediately have hard data, veteran firefighters could not recall "seeing anything like this," in the past 20 to 30 years, said San Jose Fire Capt. Cleo Doss.
At one home in Japantown, a 7-year-old girl was killed after a blaze consumed a small, detached structure located behind a large home, according to fire officials. The girl's 4-year-old sister was taken to a hospital for burn injuries. Her condition was not known.
The girl was identified by San Jose Unified School District spokesman Paulstudent at Grant Elementary.
Higgins said grief counselors were at the school today for any teachers and students who needed the support.
"She was a very happy and sociable student," Higgins said. "It's a tragedy for her family and the Grant Elementary community."
At another home located near Moorpark Avenue, an elderly woman and another adult were killed in a large, three-alarm blaze. A neighbors said the elderly woman lived in the home with her adult son, who is about 60.
"The community on both sides of town are dealing with losses," Doss said. "The families are dealing with the losses of loved ones. I can't even put it into words how they've got to be feeling, losing precious
The first blaze was reported at 8:27 p.m. at a home on South Daniel Way, located near Moorpark Avenue and Interstate 880. Firefighters responded and found fire near the front porch, Doss said. As they began stretching out a hose line, the fire became more intense, Doss said.
Another crew made their way into the back of the house and located an elderly woman, Doss said. Firefighters began CPR on the woman, who did not respond. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Firefighters had reports that a second person may have been trapped inside, Doss said.
They eventually found a second adult victim, Doss said.
The fire at South Daniel Way was knocked down at 10:13 p.m.
At 10 a.m. Tuesday a small group of firefighters remained at the scene of the large three-alarm blaze at 948 South Daniel. Smoke was still smoldering from the heavily damaged home.
A next-door neighbor said she heard loud noises best described as gunshots or an explosion on Monday night around 8:30 p.m.
"I thought CNN was replaying sound from the Boston marathon," said neighbor Lisa White. "I opened my back door and heard one at that moment, and it was accompanied with a red flash.
I could tell there was a fire."
White said she did not know the people who died in the fire. She believed a man in his 60s lived with his elderly mother, and the pair kept to themselves.
Still, White was saddened to hear her neighbors died i. The blaze.
"It was tragic," White said.
She added that many neighbors rallied to do what they could and all alerted firefighters that two people may be inside.
"There was a real sense of community out here," White said.
The second blaze was reported at 11:27 p.m. in the 500 block of North Fifth Street in Japantown. Firefighters were told a child may have been trapped inside the small, detached structure located behind a large home.
The first crews to arrive encountered a fully involved fire, Doss said. They attacked the fire and located the young victim inside the structure.
Two other people suffered injuries in the fire and were taken to local hospitals to be treated for their injuries. A 4-year-old girl suffered burns and an older man was having a cardiac event, Doss said.
Both fatal fires remain under investigation.
At 12:46 a.m. today, firefighters also responded to a third blaze in the 900 block of McKendrie Street, Doss said. As some crews were leaving the fire at North Fifth Street, they responded to the blaze at McKendrie when it was reported someone may be trapped inside.
Once it was determined no one was trapped, those
"We get into the profession to help," Doss said. "An incident like this takes its toll mentally and physically. You're looking at someone's daughter. It can be any one of their daughters. Sometimes we see it that way, as one of our children.
"It does take its toll."