Update: 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 17: Shortly before 5:17 a.m. firefighters arrived at 926 Woodside Road to find a four-story apartment building's top floor fully engulfed in flames with residents evacuating themselves and others needing to be removed through balconies, said Redwood City San Carlos Fire Marshal Jim Palisi this morning during a press conference in front of the destroyed structure.
"We had to remove people from the balconies ... with the help of ladders," Palisi said of the rescue effort following the fast moving fire.
The arriving fire commander requested additional back up for a total of six alarms with the fire being declared under control shortly before 9 a.m., Palisi said.
As of 12:30 p.m, fire officials say they are in the "overhaul" stage of the fire, meaning that they are checking for any hidden fires in areas such as walls or ceilings.
PG&E power was cut to surrounding residences and businesses for about three hours Thursday morning as firefighters battled the fire. It is unclear if the power was intentionally shut off by PG&E due to the emergency, or was a result of the fire itself.
Four victims were taken to area hospitals to be treated for minor to moderate injuries suffered as a result of the fire and the cause of the blaze is under investigation, Palisi said.
One person refused treatment and no firefighters were injured, he added.
Did a lack of fire sprinklers contribute to the fast spread of the fire in the 75-unit building? Palisi confirmed that the structure, which was built prior to the state law requiring fire sprinklers, was not equipped with sprinklers. "This building was not required to have them at the time of construction. It would have made a huge difference," Palisi said.
However, Palisi said that the building's fire alarm system did sound. State law also requires all units in the apartment building to be equipped with smoke detectors.
About the high incidence of apartment building fires in the City of Redwood City lately, Palisi said such incidents happen at such rates in many parts of the country for various reasons, most being caused by residents due to misuse of candles, electronic equipment, smoking materials, etc.
"The fire service personnel did an outstanding job," Palisi said. "They were confronted with not just a lot of fire, but a lot of people who needed to get out of the building with four people injured."
Palisi said fire safety is everyone's responsibility and encouraged the public to have smoke alarms in operation and never leave lit appliances unattended.
The fire marshal said the building's construction pipes are similar to those of the Hallmark apartment complex that burned in July and said he wasn't aware of the year the structures were built in.
Seventy two of 75 units were occupied at the time of the fire and four occupants are unaccounted for, but fire officials say they may have been at work, or out of town.
Approximately 20 engines, four ladder trucks, more than 20 overhead emergency response units, several breathing support units, an incident and dispatch team, the Redwood City Police Department, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department, San Mateo County of Emergency Services responded to the fire for a total of more than 100 personnel, Palisi said.
"The investigation is under way to determine the origin of the fire," he added. "We're working with the Red Cross to get all the victims housed ... We have a lot of work to do. This is a great community and everyone comes together."
The building's top floor is completely gutted, and there is significant damage to the entire building Palisi said having received major water and fire damage.
"It will be a long time before they can go back," said Palisi.
The American Red Cross has set up an evacuation center at Red Morton Community Center, 1120 Roosevelt Ave. for those displaced from the fire.
A Redwood City spokeswoman said breakfast was served to dozens of evacuated residents. Other resources will be provided at the center throughout the day. At this time, 71 tenants have registered at the community center
Representatives from the Peninsula Humane Society are also at the evacuation center to help residents locate missing pets. As of Thursday morning, a PHS representative on the site said four cats, five gold fish, two guinea pigs and a snake were unaccounted for. One cat was recovered by firefighters and handed back to its grateful owners.
The building is managed by Terrace Associates, Inc., which has properties throughout the Peninsula and South Bay region.
The building's owner has been notified about the fire and the fire's damage estimate is unknown at this time, Palisi said.
"The firefighters did a good job. It was a very difficult task during a very critical time in the morning when people are asleep, just getting up to go to work ... law enforcement, too, were a critical part in the fast response," Palisi noted.
Update: 8:11 a.m.. Thursday, Oct. 17
By Bay City News Service and Patch Staff
Five people have been injured, one critically, in an early morning Redwood City apartment fire, according to Fire Marshal Jim Palisi.
Injuries included a broken arm, smoke inhalation and burns, officials said.
Carly Esson, a barista at the Espresso Lane coffee shop across the street on Woodside Road, said at least 20 fire trucks and about six ambulances responded to the blaze.
A resident of the building told Esson he had evacuated from his second-floor apartment without any of his belongings and was worried because he doesn't have insurance.
Woodside Road is closed between Valota Road and Hudson Street, according to Redwood City police.
The Red Cross is responding to the Red Morton Community Center at 1120 Roosevelt Ave. to assist those displaced by the fire.
Make a donation by visiting www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the national office, American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
An early morning fire at The Terrace apartment complex that injured at least four people was still burning as of 7:30 a.m., according to news reports and fire officials.
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The fire at the four-story 75-unit apartment building at 926 Woodside Road near Union Avenue was reported at around 5:30 a.m., according to fire officials.
As of about 6:15 a.m. the roof of the building had collapsed and flames could be seen coming from the entire top floor of the building.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. One of the victims is reportedly in critical condition.
—Redwood City Patch will update this story as soon as more information becomes available.