A 17-year-old girl who had just graduated from Nipomo High died after a fire engulfed a two-story house on West Tefft Street in Nipomo early Tuesday morning.
Two others sustained injuries and two dogs died in the blaze reported at 1:42 a.m. in the 1400 block of West Tefft Street and Calico Court, according to Cal Fire Capt. Adan Orozco.
Cal Fire personnel arrived on scene within eight minutes as flames raced through both floors of the home, according to Orozco, who said 10 engines and at least 38 personnel responded.
“Every room in that house was on fire when they arrived,” Orozco said.
Three people were in the house when the fire started and were transported to Marian Regional Medical Center, where the 17-year-old later died. Her name has yet to be released, although NHS officials confirmed on Tuesday the girl had just graduated.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of a recent graduate of Nipomo High School as a result of an early morning fire today,” Principal John Denno said. “Our hearts are with the family. We are respecting their privacy, and are asking you to do the same.
“Counselors are available to students and staff. If your child would like to speak to one of our school or district counselors, please have them contact our counseling office so that we may follow up.”
The extent of injuries to the other two inhabitants has not been disclosed, although they were reportedly released from the hospital.
Firefighters contained the fire after an hour, using hoses to suppress the flames and chainsaws to cut the roof open as a means of ventilation, according to Orozco.
A neighbor named Mark, who didn’t disclose his last name, was wakened by the sirens and ran next door to make sure his neighbors were safe. He saw the fire truck attempting to use the ladder to gain access to the house by going over the electrical lines but had to go under the lines.
The flames became more intense and smoke billowed into the street when the firefighters cut the roof open, mixing with the fog and the flashing red lights, according to Mark.
“It was kind of creepy,” Mark said, adding that he witnessed flames shooting out of the kitchen window and heard the blaring sounds of smoke alarms as crews put the fire out. “This whole area was aglow with red, not from the fire but from the sirens.”
A second residence on the same property lost power due to the fire but wasn’t damaged, according to Orozco. Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas companies were on scene checking utility connections, which is standard in a house fire, he added.
Later in the morning, Mark said several cars with young adults drove past the burned home in what he described as a show of respect.
A fire investigator remained on scene Tuesday morning, according to Orozco.
Emergency responders included the Santa Maria Fire Department, Five Cities Fire Authority, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and American Medical Response.