BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The house was only 463 square feet and burned quickly. The fire, which started around 4 p.m. on Thursday, claimed a woman and a boy.
Family members say 58-year-old Rosemary Meda was bedridden after recently undergoing knee replacement surgery on both legs. At least she had her 10 year old grandson there to help her that day. When the fire broke out in the tiny one-bedroom house, relatives speculated, the boy ran to another part of the house to fetch her wheelchair. But when he came back to get her the smoke was too thick. The house, built in 1930 with cedar shingles, was pulled up like a tinder box.
When the firefighters could finally enter the building, they found them, grandmother and grandson, in the bedroom together.
“Our crews were able to get on there and do a primary search,” said Deputy Chief Kevin Albertson of the Bakersfield Fire Department. “In that primary search, they found a woman, approximately 60, and a man, approximately 10, who had died from fire injuries.”
A neighbor who gave his name only as Jose had what appeared to be a crucial clue as to the cause of the fire. He said he heard an explosion.
“We were all here when we suddenly heard this sound like an explosion, like gas, and we noticed all the flames, lots of flames,” he said in comments translated from Spanish. “The firefighters came here quickly but still couldn’t do much. ”
The fire was so hot that neighbors across the street could feel the heat on their faces. Some moved their cars down the street, afraid they would scorch their paint – or worse.
A woman who lives in the apartment complex just across from 32nd Street, which is as narrow as an alley, asked not to use her name.
“It went up, it went, the power poles went right there,” she said. “Pretty dangerous, pretty scary.”
The boy’s father had dropped his son off at the grandmother’s house and, according to relatives, was on his way to Las Vegas, and the grandfather was gone by the time.
So many questions went unanswered. What caused the fire Why didn’t the boy flee, given the opportunity? On this latter point, we may never have an answer.