A three-alarm fire that appears to have ignited in the basement of a Victorian-style duplex in midtown Saturday drew more than 60 firefighters in an effort to keep the blaze from spreading through the entire structure, according to the Sacramento Fire Department.
While no one was hurt, residents cannot return home because the basement of the duplex was completely destroyed, leaving large holes in the first floors of both units, said fire spokesman Keith Wade, adding that the fire seemed to have been burning for some time before fire crews arrived.
A call came in at around 4:30 p.m. reporting the fire in the 700 block of 22nd Street, Wade said.
“Victorian fires are always a long, drawn-out process,” Wade said, noting that many older structures were built long before modern building codes were enacted to help prevent the spread of fires.
Unless they have been retrofitted or had some renovations done, old Victorians usually lack horizontal fire blockers in the walls that prevent fires from spreading easily to additional floors, Wade said. Without the blockers, the fire can shoot up to the attic in a matter of minutes, he said.
Aside from floor damage, only one of the units experienced interior damage, Wade said. But he said both units had smoke and water damage.
The exact origin and cause of the fire are still under investigation.
Staff from the city’s division of Housing and Dangerous Buildings will likely need to inspect the duplex, Wade said, to judge whether the building’s structure is still sound.
“That house might need to be demolished because of how badly the basement and floors were burned,” Wade said.
On a positive note, Wade said a cat was rescued from the second floor of one of the units. While it did initially suffer from smoke inhalation, it was returned to its owner and is doing fine, he said.