A concerned neighbor has set up a fundraiser to help a Pasadena family who lost everything in a fire officials say was sparked by illegal fireworks on Tuesday afternoon.
The fire ignited and quickly grew into an inferno about 1 p.m. on a property at 894 N. Summit Ave., according to Pasadena Fire Department and city officials.
A firework set off by a child from a neighboring apartment building was believed to have sparked the blaze, which first ignited vegetation, officials said. The flames quickly spread to six cars and a trailer before making their way into the main house.
Flames tore through a rear portion of the home, leaving it a total loss, city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. It also caused minor damage to a neighboring apartment building.
Firefighters faced stubborn flames before declaring the fire extinguished 50 minutes after it was first reported, Derderian said.
No injuries were reported, but three adult cousins who live at the home were displaced, according to officials and neighbors.
The damage to the home, which was reportedly more than 115 years old, as well as the vehicles and neighboring apartment building was estimated at more than $1 million, according to Derderian..
The destroyed home had been in the residents’ family for three generations and was packed with irreplaceable heirlooms, said neighbor Stacey Strickler, who has set up a an online fund at https://www.gofundme.com/f/
She said she heard the pop of a firework, followed by crackling sounds which grew increasingly louder.
“Fifteen seconds after I heard fireworks, I opened the door and I saw a tower of smoke and flames,” Strickler said.
Knowing that one of the home’s residents was generally at home sleeping in the back of the home at that time of day, Strickler said she rushed over to check on him.
“I could not even run down the driveway, the smoke and fire was so intense,” she said. “The heat, it was unbelievable”
Strickler said she tried breaking through the front door of the burning home, but arriving police officers stopped her, she said.
In video from the scene, Strickler can be heard pleading with officials to make sure one of the residents got out safely.
“It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” she said. Not knowing the fate of her neighbor, “It was torture until the fire department got there.”
Fortunately, “in an incredible twist of fate,” it turned out that the resident she was worried about had gone out to run an errand, and the home was unoccupied at the time of the fire, she said.
The home had been in the family for three generations, Strickler said.
“This family across the street is an incredible family,” she said.
Since Strickler moved to the neighborhood 12 years ago, “They’ve been just absolutely wonderful neighbors the entire time.”
Family members and friends descended on the scene Tuesday afternoon to offer support, she said. “They have deep roots in Pasadena.”
“The home is a complete loss, signifying the loss of three generations of family heirlooms,” according to a statement on the GoFundMe account. “They are innocent victims of careless neighbors.”
While firefighters managed to salvage some possession that had been stored in the front of the home, the family was left with virtually nothing but the clothes on their backs, Strickler said.
The displaced family was offered assistance with immediate necessities from the fire department, and the Red Cross helped in finding temporary housing, Derderian said.
All fireworks are illegal in Pasadena, and city officials have recently been advertising the city’s ‘zero tolerance” policy at length ahead of Independence Day, warning that violators could face up to a year in jail, vehicle impounds and fines of up to $50,000.
An investigation into the origin of the fire was ongoing. Further details were not released.
Anyone with information can reach the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-4501. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.
All fireworks are ILLEGAL in the city of Pasadena. They're a fire hazard and can lead to serious injury. Please stay safe & leave the shows to the pros. pic.twitter.com/6xdKAViIit
— City of Pasadena (@PasadenaGov) June 5, 2021