Hemet residents flee explosive carport fire

Witnesses report clothes burned off one man, others injured escaping

Photo by John Strangis/En Media
Investigators assess the damage on the scene after the flames are put out.

■ Taj Shorter / Reporter

In the early hours of Friday, June 15, residents of Carson St. Apartments in Hemet fled for their lives after an explosive carport fire let loose.
A little after 1 a.m. the Hemet Fire Department responded to a structure and vehicle fire located at 626 Carson St. The Hemet Police Department were also on scene helping assist the evacuation of residents after reports of trapped civilians and multiple explosions. Responding firefighters were able to contain the fire before it spread to the nearby apartment building housing many fellow residents. The scene and surrounding areas were shut down for hours and well into the following day.

Photos by John Strangis/En Media
Flames rage as first responders try to contain the fire before it spreads to the nearby apartment building.

Over 20 people were displaced from their homes and multiple residents sustained minor injuries for which they were taken to the hospital for treatment. The Red Cross came to aid residents and assist with the displacements, which was confirmed by Battalion Chief James Majchrzak. Several cars near the carport structure were damaged beyond salvation leaving multiple residents without cars or the personal belongings that were in them.
Several electronics inside the car that initially caught fire caused multiple explosions which had affected other nearby cars. Residents recorded the catastrophic flames and blasts on their phones. According to an interview with CBS2LA, one resident in particular, Allen Jones, was recording and noticed another man with no clothes because they had apparently been burned off by one of the blasts from the fire. Other residents had sustained cuts and bruises on their legs from jumping over a fence in order to escape the raging flames.
The incident is being investigated as possible arson by investigators but no one has been implicated or reported to have been taken into custody. Officers did investigate an apartment of a resident they considered a suspect and confiscated a gun safe as well as a bag holding unknown contents.

About a half dozen cars were destroyed leaving many residents without their car.

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