Cotati Fire Leads to Explosion, Destruction of Several Homes, Structures

A fire in a residential garage led to an explosion that leveled the garage and damaged multiple homes in Cotati Saturday night, a Rancho Adobe fire battalion chief said.

The two-alarm blaze was reported at a home in the 600 block of West School Road at 4:11 p.m., Rancho Adobe fire Battalion Chief Steve Davidson said.

Firefighters from Rancho Adobe, Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Gold Ridge responded along with Cal Fire.

When firefighters arrived at the scene, the home was already engulfed in flames, Davidson said.

According to the battalion chief, the homeowners were at the residence when the fire began and were alerted when their son smelled smoke.

The son told his father, and the father went to investigate the cause of the smell. The fire was coming from the garage, where a set of tanks containing Oxy Acetylene were stored for use in hobby welding, Davidson said.

The father began to use a garden house to fight the fire, but realizing the danger posed by the tanks of gas, got everyone out of the home.

The tanks exploded, leveling the garage, Davidson said. Additional mini explosions from car fuel tanks also occurred. Davidson said the explosion knocked the gas meter off and caused a natural gas leak.

Firefighters were not able to fight the blaze until the gas leak was shut off. A power line also was disconnected by the explosion and flames, and dropped onto the house.

Davidson said firefighters had to wait for PG&E crews to respond to the scene, and the main house and was a complete loss. The family's motor home was also a total loss.

Two neighboring homes and neighboring vehicles were damaged in the blaze, Davidson said. No injuries were reported.

The blaze was brought under control at 5:35 p.m. PG&E crews arrived and were able to cap the natural gas leak at 9 p.m., Davidson said.

The Red Cross responded and offered assistance to the displaced family, who decided to stay with friends in the neighborhood.

--Bay City News


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