SAN PABLO -- A San Pablo woman escaped a fire in the upper apartment unit of a two-story building Tuesday, and authorities said she owes her good fortune to a working smoke alarm.

The woman, who was not identified, was asleep in the upstairs unit when the fire started around 12:25 p.m. Monday ¿in the 1400 block of Amador Street, said Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. The alarm woke her, Broschard said, and after smelling smoke she left the building and called 911.

An adult and child living in the lower unit were not home during the fire but were displaced, Broschard said. They were assisted by the American Red Cross with temporary housing.

Engines from fire houses in San Pablo, El Sobrante and El Cerrito, and two engines from the Richmond Fire Department responded and were there within four minutes of the emergency call and had the fire extinguished in 10 minutes, Broschard said.

Crews kept the blaze contained to one room and the majority of the upstairs unit was saved, Broschard said. Some items on the lower floor also burned, and Broschard estimated damage to the unit at $10,000. On the ConFire blog, Broschard wrote that the woman's "early notification ... limited the magnitude of the fire."

The fire remained under investigation Tuesday, but it appears to be accidental, Broschard said.


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Authorities said the outcome of the blaze shows that all residents should have a working smoke alarm on each level of their home. The Contra Costa Fire Protection District provides free smoke alarm installations and said more information on using them safely can be found at http://bit.ly/13GyS77.

Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow them at Twitter.com/3rdERH.