Five people were displaced from their Murrieta home Saturday when a fire that possibly started in their chimney spread to their attic.
Fire engines from all five Murrieta stations were dispatched at 2:44 p.m. Saturday to the 25000 block of Birchtree Drive, according to on-duty Battalion Chief Mario Monroy.
Fire victim Sergio Alvarez told Patch he and his family were unaware of the fire until a passer-by knocked on their front door.
"Somebody was driving by and came over and said your house is on fire," Alvarez said. "We didn't know, we were watching TV."
He noted their fireplace is gas-operated.
The first arriving engine crew found smoke emitting from the second-story attic, according to Monroy.
"As it turns out, they were using their fireplace so it wold appear—preliminarily—that the attic fire was a result of their chimney," Monroy said.
Crews knocked the fire out within 15 minutes, the battalion chief said.
As of the time of publication, there was no damage estimate, according to Monroy, who confirmed the residents would not be able to stay in the home.
"We do have damage due to overhaul at the point to the upstairs and downstairs—water damage—and most likely some structural damage to the attic space."
Alvarez said this is the first time he and his family have experienced a fire, but said they have relatives whom live nearby whom they planned to stay with temporarily.
Monroy said the residents were offered the assistance of American Red Cross, but that they did not immediately accept the offer.