HEMET: Apartment destroyed by blaze that also killed family pet in second apartment

HEMET — One apartment was destroyed and another was damaged by smoke during a swift moving blaze that also killed a family pet this morning. The fire erupted inside a downstairs residence at the Devonshire Apartments at

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About fifteen City of Hemet firefighters from four engine companies and one truck company along with a battalion chief and other emergency first responders were dispatched to the complex shortly before 10 a.m., after a nearby resident reported the fire.

When firefighters arrived they found a downstairs apartment fully engulfed in flames. Gary Rainwater photo

Pam Cummins, who lives directly across the hall from the apartment that caught fire, later explained she called 911 to report the fire after she smelled smoke wafting into her kitchen under her front door.

According to Cummins, landscapers working at the complex used their tools to break out the apartment’s front window to try to see if anyone was trapped inside. Thick black smoke immediately began pouring from the apartment, just as firefighters and other officials began arriving at the complex.

When firefighters arrived they located flames and smoke billowing from a downstairs apartment. The thick, choking smoke was rising up toward two apartments above and entering into at least one of the apartment’s open windows.

Firefighters began an aggressive attack on the blaze, bringing the fire under control within minutes of their arrival. While firefighters worked at the scene, crowds of area residents and curious onlookers watched on and several were later seen thanking the officials for their efforts.

Firefighters eventually determined nobody had been in the apartment that burned and Cummins later told RCNS a man who lived in the apartment had left the location shortly before the blaze broke out.

While firefighters checked an upstairs apartment for smoke damage they located a deceased bird, believed to be a cockatiel. An official later said from the scene that the bird was believed to have died from smoke inhalation from the fire in the downstairs apartment.

There were no reported injuries to citizens or firefighters and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Photos by Gary Rainwater

Gary Rainwater video

Gary Rainwater video

Gary Rainwater video

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.

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