A two-alarm house fire this morning left three women dead in the blaze, Contra Costa fire officials said. Around 12:30 a.m., crews responded to a multiple reports of a blaze at a single-story home in the 200 block of Dimaggio Avenue, Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard said.
Crews were able to knock down the fire, which appears to have started in the front room of the home, by 12:55 a.m. After hearing that there may have been occupants in the home, firefighters searched the home and were able to pull each out.
The three who died were all occupants of the home and all women over age 18, he said. Identities have not been released, as the Contra Costa coroner's is still notifying next of kin.
A neighboring home had some exterior damage from the blaze, but the resident of that home, Mary Lou Oliver, said "that's all material" considering the gravity of the fire.
Oliver said she "feels fortunate" because she was asleep when the fire started and she woke to neighbors pounding on her door to wake her up so she could get out. She said she grabbed a couple things and her Chihuahua, Niki, before leaving.
After she raced out of her home, she said she could see the fire burning the fence between the two houses and a big ball of fire in the front of her neighbor's home.
Oliver said she didn't know the neighbors who died.
The presumption is that they were sleeping, given the time of the morning, Broschard said.
Broschard points out that crews found three smoke detectors in the home, but none of them were functioning or had batteries. There were also uninstalled detectors found in the laundry room, he said.
"The real tragedy is that this could have been adverted," Broschard said. "They would have had advanced notification that there was smoke and could get out."
Fire investigators remain at the scene Sunday morning looking for the fire's cause and a cost estimate of the damage.
Written by Contra Costa Times