Six people were taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center after escaping from a house fire on Johnson Street early Sunday morning. The fire started at the front of the house and spread to the attic.
A total of nine people — six residents and three visitors — were in the house when it caught fire, and all were asleep. Resident and Cal Poly photography senior Hannah Baumhofer said her boyfriend woke her up when he realized the house was on fire.
“I woke up, and the house was already engulfed in flames,” she said. “I was so confused.”
All nine narrowly escaped; one woman jumped from her second story window to get away from the flames.
Six people involved were hospitalized — of those, five were released — and one woman was sent to Fresno’s burn treatment center, according to San Luis Obispo Fire Department Fire Captain Bob Bisson.
Bisson said the department received multiple 911 calls after the fire started at 3:38 a.m. It responded with two engines and one ladder truck.
Property owner Bea Jeong said the fire started in a couch on the porch. It then spread to the attic through the house’s balloon framing.
“They don’t build houses like this anymore because of that,” Bisson said. “There was no fire blocking in here at all.”
The cause is still under investigation, though the fire is currently called an accident. Bisson said the residents confirmed no smoke alarms went off, so “it’s very possible that there weren’t any or that they were turned off.” But Jeong said there were smoke detectors in the house.
There is extensive damage to the house, but it has yet to be determined if the building will be habitable in the near future.
“A lot of this isn’t salvageable already,” Bisson said. “But it’s up to the property owner if she wants to try to save the house.”
Bisson said these kinds of fires happen more often than one would think. Older houses aren’t built to accommodate as many people as they do in college towns, he said, and when they are carved up into smaller rooms, it puts the house at higher risk for fire.
“There are a lot of students who are alive today because of their smoke detectors,” he said. “If there’s anything to be learned here, it’s to check your detectors, and leave them on.”
Jeong had planned for a group of Cal Poly students to sign a lease for next school year the day of the fire.
Kassi Luja contributed to this article.