A three-alarm fire on Myrtle Avenue severely damaged two buildings, but no one was injured in the Monday morning blaze.
Humboldt Bay Fire crews arrived to find the possible laundry room fire spreading to three buildings on the 1200 block of Myrtle Avenue near West Avenue around 3:35 a.m., according to Humboldt Bay Fire Battalion Chief Bill Reynolds.
”Two buildings are heavily damaged, one experienced minor damage,” Reynolds said. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Reynolds said the fire caused extensive burn damage to a two-story, Victorian-style home where three people lived and an office unit for Crossroads, an alcoholism treatment program. The flames slightly burned the back of the two-story Crossroads residential unit, also a Victorian, according to Reynolds.
Humboldt Bay Fire Chief Ken Woods said 19 people were in the structures at the time of the fire, and all escaped without injury.
Based on an investigation, the fire appears to have started in the laundry room, in the area of the dryer vent. Investigators also reviewed surveillance camera footage and found the fire appeared to have started as much as 30 minutes before being noticed and reported via 911. The fire appears accidental in nature, according to Humboldt Bay Fire.
”It was probably a couple hours before we had control,” Woods said. “The laundry room is completely gone, but we did save the entire Crossroads residential building.”
Crossroads addiction specialist Denise Lee was at the scene later in the morning, looking at the charred remains of the group meeting room and office space.
”I'm glad no one got hurt,” Lee said. “Our office and group meeting room are pretty trashed. Obviously, we can't have group meetings in there anymore.”
Lee said the residential unit houses up to 16 men who have a history of substance abuse.
”That's potentially 16 men with substance abuse issues that aren't going to have any place to go,” Lee said. “If we're not able to license our other place, I don't know what's going to happen.”
Woods said the residents in the housing unit will most likely be able to return.
Lee said the owner of the Victorian next door ran a program for people with special needs.
”He's basically lost everything,” Lee said.
The second floor and roof of the Victorian house were severely burned due the building's “balloon-frame construction,” Reynolds said.
”The fire got into the walls and went straight into the attic,” he said.
Fire personnel from Arcata responded to the scene while the Fortuna and Loleta fire departments covered the city, according to Reynolds.
”The cause is still under investigation, and there is nothing suspicious so far,” Reynolds said.
Myrtle Avenue at West Avenue was closed for several hours due to the fire, which was under control by 5:30 a.m., officials said. Crews remained on scene until 11 a.m., putting out hot spots and cutting away smoldering portions of the building.
Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Will_S_Houston