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3 Barely Escape Fire in Upstairs Apartment in Newport Beach

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Three people sharing a second-floor apartment narrowly escaped a fire that might have caused less damage had the batteries in the smoke detectors been replaced, fire officials said Tuesday.

A cigarette or match on a living room couch caused the blaze, which gutted the apartment unit in the 100 block of 47th Street, Newport Beach Fire Chief Dennis Lockard said. Damage was estimated at $70,000.

Lockard said the fire started about 11 p.m. Monday.

One of the occupants, Thomas Martin, was awakened by the sound of breaking glass coming from the living room, Lockard said. Martin opened the door to his bedroom to find heavy smoke in the hallway and went to rouse his friends, Gina and Susan Fettig, who were asleep, Lockard said.

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“They escaped through a bedroom window, onto the lower roof, then to the ground,” he said. “They were very fortunate, because this kind of fire usually results in fatalities.”

The fire was controlled by 33 firefighters in 16 minutes, Lockard said.

The batteries to two smoke detectors in the apartment unit were missing, he said. If the smoke detectors had been in operation, the fire could have been controlled much sooner, avoiding a dangerous situation for the three occupants and saving more of their belongings, he said.


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