A child playing with a sparkler ignited a fire that engulfed two San Jose apartment units early Friday afternoon, causing an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 in damage in the first significant destruction caused by illegal fireworks this season.
San Jose and Campbell fire units responded to the three-alarm fire at 1:23 p.m. at the Cedar Glen apartments on South Bascom Avenue, near the border of San Jose and Campbell.
San Jose fire Capt. Chuck Rangel said the fire began when a child playing with a sparkler on a first-floor apartment accidentally lit a couch on the porch on fire, which spread inside and into the unit above.
The sparkler, like all fireworks, is illegal in San Jose.
Encountering a fire that had a "good head start," Rangel said, the first units launched an aggressive attack with three hose lines.
Firefighters also scaled the building complex on ladders to cut holes in the roof in order to release heat, smoke and toxic gases and to channel the fire in one direction.
Firefighters fought to contain the blaze for a half-hour before it was extinguished.
The other 18 units of the 20-unit, two-story apartment building did not sustain fire damage, though Rangel said they may have been affected by smoke.
There were no reported injuries.
Officials are still investigating the apartment complex to determine its structural integrity and the repair necessary for the two destroyed units.
The property manager for the units declined to comment.
Contact Eric Messinger at 408-920-5719.