OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — One person is feared dead, and firefighters rescued at least seven people from a raging fire in a three-story residential building Monday in a scene that sent residents rushing from flames and billowing smoke.
Dazed adults and children wrapped in Red Cross blankets milled in a parking lot as firefighters continued to pour water on a building had been their home until Monday’s early morning blaze.
Ruben Deon Mitchell Jr. said he was awakened shortly after 4 a.m. to screams of fire. He escaped, but not before telling frightened children on the second floor to use the fire escape to get out.
“I opened the door and there was smoke in the hallway,” he said.
Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Erik Logan said one person is feared dead after rescuers spotted what looked to be a body on the third floor. They had to retreat before they could confirm, he said.
“When firefighters first went in, they saw what might have looked like a body on the third floor, but the flames were so intense they had to retreat,” Logan told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/2o9Ngbc ). “We have to get more of this fire out to see.”
The blaze was contained to the building, Logan said.
“It’s an old building,” he said.
Logan said about 50 to 60 people lived in the building, which one resident described to KTVU-TV as a place for recovering addicts.
Oakland became the site of the deadliest structure fire in the U.S. in more than a decade when three dozen partygoers perished at a warehouse fire in December. The building that burned Monday is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) northwest of that warehouse.
The morning scene outside the building was smoky and confused. Red Cross volunteers eventually found sweatpants for a 9-year-old boy who had scrambled out of the building in his underwear and socks.