by Tamika Harrison
Oscar De León
The La Verne Fire Department is still investigating the cause of a house fire, which started in a D Street garage and spread, demolishing the structure.
No one was injured in the fire, which broke out at approximately 5:30 p.m. Monday on the corner of D and Fifth streets, one block north of the University of La Verne.
Flames shot up from the corner house belonging to 92-year- old Blanche Christensen and 30 minutes later, the house was destroyed.
Four children, who were two houses away from the scene, were the first to notice the fire while they were playing handball.
“When the ball went up in the air, we saw the smoke,” one of the children said. They ran to neighbor Gilbert Jimenez to inform him of the emergency.
At the same time, Ronnie Redarde, a former employee of Warehouse Pizza, saw the fire while eating nearby and called 911.
Jimenez then arrived at the scene and began spraying the fire with water to prevent it from spreading to his home.
Two La Verne police officers arrived at the scene and helped the residents collect their belongings.
“We saw the fire from our station around 5:30 p.m. and before anyone reported the fire we saw a large header coming out,” La Verne Fire Department Chief Ron Sillo said.
When we arrived, the garage was on fire and focusing a lot of heat onto the house,” he said.
“We didn’t even know our house was on fire,” said Wallace Christensen, Blanche Christensen’s son.
The fire started in the garage and quickly spread throughout the house.
Brett Baldwin, who lives in the garage, was not home when the fire started. He said he does not remember leaving any appliances on.
“If it turns out to be because of my negligence, I will help in any way I can,” Baldwin said.
Jimenez said that the Christensens often rented out their back garage.
He said that five years ago an angry tenant, after getting evicted went back to the house and threw books in the shed and set them on fire, which led him to wonder if the same person was responsible for this fire.
Firefighters said that winds blowing in the house’s direction contributed to the rapid spread of the fire from the garage to the house.
By the time the fire engines got to the location, they cranked up a fire extinguisher and sprayed it into the house.
Eventually the location was filled with fire fighters, trucks and police officers.
Yellow tape blocked off all of the street corners surrounding the house to prevent traffic from coming through and the fire fighters worked long and hard to extinguish the blazing fire.
“Now where are we going to live?” cried Blanche Christensen.
Blanche Christensen’s daughter in-law Sandy Christensen said that she has plenty of friends and fellow church members in the area so having a place for her to stay wouldn’t be a problem.
Approximately 6:30 p.m. Blanche Christensen was taken away in the ambulance to the Pomona Valley Medical Center. Although she was okay the paramedics took her in to get a heart check up to be safe.
Three hours had gone buy and some fire still persisted to burn in the roof of the house. Even though most of the fire was put out there was still work to be done.
Most of the fire engines that were there had left but still a couple remained to put out what was left of the fire.
“The reason we’re having so much trouble here is because there’s so many spaces in he house where we can’t get a fire hose aligned to,” said Sillo.
The firemen had to break the ceiling down in order to get to the fire that continued to burn in the attic. There are a few things salvageable, but mostly everything was damaged. Currently the La Verne Fire Department is investigating the cause the fire.