At least six people were displaced and a pet dog died after a Christmas tree caught fire in the living room of a California residence Sunday afternoon.
Dispatchers received reports of a house fire at an apartment complex on San Juan Street in Spring Valley at around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Day. Upon reaching the scene, firefighters found intense flames coming from an apartment on the lower floor of the four-unit complex, CBS8 reported.
About 40 personnel from three fire departments, including Heartland Fire and San Diego Fire-Rescue, worked together to dose the fire which took about 30 to 40 minutes, San Miguel Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Roddy Blunt said, according to the outlet.
As per a preliminary investigation conducted by the officials, a young boy between the ages of 6 and 8 first witnessed the flames that began at the center of the family’s Christmas tree. The child promptly notified his mother, who was in her room at the time.
However, by the time they returned to the Christmas tree, the fire had taken over the front portion of their apartment. The flames spread through the open window to the balconies of the upstairs apartments and then reached the roof.
The apartment where the fire started was “completely destroyed,” Blunt said, according to San Diego Union-Tribune. He added that the other three houses also sustained severe damage from smoke as well as heat and water.
The family managed to escape the fire through a back window of the house, but their pet dog died after getting trapped in the fire.
Six people who were displaced in the incident received assistance from the American Red Cross. Three people suffered smoke inhalation but refused medical treatment.
San Diego Sheriffs launched an investigation into the cause of the fire. The identities of the family members were not provided by the authorities.
Meanwhile, officials called on the families to water their Christmas trees and ensure that electrical switches and lights are turned off when they are not home.
“Everybody needs to water their Christmas trees and check their electrical and make sure their lights are shut off when they are not home,” Blunt said, as per CBS8.