Two-alarm fire leaves unanswered questions
Help from ATF sought; arson a possibility
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By Dave Williams  January 25, 2013 12:00 am

A two-alarm fire at a Rohnert Park apartment complex early in the morning on Jan. 21 sent two people to a local hospital and left 15 others homeless. It also left a lot of questions unanswered.

The Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety has deemed the apartment complex at 8020 Beverly Dr. a crime scene because of its suspicious nature and because the cause of the fire has yet to be determined. RPDPS Lt. John Marty, supervisor of the fire division, has requested assistance from the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and members of Sonoma County’s arson and fire investigation team.

Reports of a blaze at the complex’s carport came in at around 1:30 a.m., and the fire quickly spread to the old apartment complex on the floors above. Six one-bedroom apartments were destroyed, as well as at least six automobiles. The estimated damage is $1 million. Arson has not been ruled out.

One woman reportedly suffered a broken ankle, while a child suffered smoke inhalation. Also, a firefighter received stitches after cutting his hand while breaking through a window.

According to Marty, supervisor of the RPDPS fire division, a good Samaritan, 23-year-old Trevor Kasimoff, is credited with assisting a family escape their second-floor apartment as the blaze raged behind them. Marty said had the man not been there to assist, things could have been worse.

Kasimoff caught two children who were held out the second-story window by their mother and helped catch the mother after she jumped from the same window. He later brought a ladder to the windows of neighboring apartments, so those residents could climb out of their windows.

A temporary shelter was been established by the local American Red Cross.

Red Cross volunteers opened a shelter and provided other assistance to nine residents affected by the fire. The shelter, at the Rohnert Park Community Center, provided a warm, safe place for the residents to meet with Red Cross volunteers, who also provided funds for food, clothing and replacement medicines. The volunteers included a nurse and mental health professional to provide support for both physical and mental health.

Most of the people affected by the fire did not require a place to stay, so Red Cross is arranging for motel stays to the few people who need them.

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