Updated: House Fire Starts After Bus Explodes at Fourth Avenue near Seabright

Witnesses say a downed power line may have sparked the blaze.

Santa Cruz Fire Department firefighters fighting the blaze on the roof.
Santa Cruz Fire Department firefighters fighting the blaze on the roof.

—Written by Sheila Sanchez and Brad Kava

Update: 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26: A one-story home at 121 Fourth Ave. in Santa Cruz near Seabright Beach was partially destroyed Thursday afternoon when a van parked in front of it caught on fire for unknown reasons.

Santa Cruz Fire Battalion Chief Rob Young said the fire was reported at 4:52 p.m. for a vehicle that was either smoking or on fire and more reports came in that it was ablaze and was 10 feet from a structure.

The response was then upgraded to additional engines and a battalion chief, Young said.

As crews arrived, they realized the fire had spread to the structure and the blaze was once again upgraded to four engines, a fire truck and a battalion chief, Young said.

The RV in the alley way between Third and Fourth avenues was well involved and had spread to the house's rear portion. 
Initially it wasn't clear whether anyone was in the home and firefighters entered the dwelling to make sure it was empty. The tenants that live at the property have been contacted and are now on scene. All are accounted for and are unharmed. 

Young said the cause of the fire is under investigation and added power lines were down in the alley way and PG&E are on scene to secure the area for safety. 

The fire was being overhauled and the home suffered heavy smoke and water damage, Young added.  

A total of four engines, a truck and a duty chief responded for a total of 16 fire fighting personnel, Young said

Brad Wheeler, who lives next to the property and whose wife called 911 to report the fire, said a Mercedes van in the house next to his home caught on fire.

"I don't know how it started, but we could smell it and see it," Wheeler said. "We could see that it was parked right in front of our house."

Wheeler is staying in his mother's two-story house at 123 Fourth Ave. His family of four children is in Santa Cruz vacationing from Washington, D.C. The home was not compromised.

"I feel really bad for the homeowners," Wheeler said. "From all that I gather nobody was hurt and that's great. Property can be replaced."

A house went up in flames on Fourth Avenue and East Cliff Drive at 4:45 p.m. Thursday after a van blew up in front of the one story structure. No one was injured and firefighters kept it from spreading.

They rescued a poodle named Mac from the home's window, said Holt Russin, who lives at 403 Atlantic Ave. He said he saw flames shooting out from the house. The van was in the back of the house and the fire jumped from the vehicle to the house. 

Another neighbor also witnessed it.

 "I was in my backyard saw this huge plume of smoke," said David McKenna, who lives on Fourth Avenue. "Me and my housemate Ian ran outside and we saw a downed powerline apparently caught this Eurobus on fire and it exploded and caught the house on fire."

Alan Hawrylyshen said he saw the bus blazing and it appeared to set the house afire.


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