A Marguerite Avenue house fire that killed a man this week was a chaotic, smoke-filled scene, with small explosions, breaking glass and passersby desperately trying to use a garden hose to help as flames closed in on power lines overhead, a witness said in an interview.
The fire at 607 1/2 Marguerite Ave. injured two police officers, who were treated and released from a hospital, and critically burned a man who was trapped on a second story of the burning building. The man died Tuesday morning of his injuries. His name was not released.
The fire was reported at 2:38 p.m. Monday, just as many parents of Harbor View Elementary School were headed for student pickup.
Mike Dyson of Corona del Mar said he was passing the scene on the way to the school on Goldenrod Avenue when we saw smoke.
“Something did not look right,” he said. “I know the difference between a barbecue and a home on fire.”
Dyson parked, and he and two other men began to help. Dyson found a neighbor’s hose in the alley, and another man took it while Dyson went to turn on the water and work out kinks in the line.
“The hose wasn’t doing anything,” he said. “Then someone began yelling, ‘There’s a man inside! There’s a man inside!”
Dyson said he then began to hear small explosions inside the home.
“Things were breaking, the heat was breaking out the windows,” he said. “The flames were right there, and the man was not conscious. That’s when we were running around, looking for a ladder.”
Dyson said he was aware of the flames moving toward overhead power lines while two other men worked to rescue the man from the upstairs room. The men climbed onto what appeared to be the victim’s truck in a carport, then one man climbed on the other’s shoulders. They broke a window and were trying to drag the man out of the burning home.
The smoke was thick and the heat intense, he said. Dyson worried the carport would fall down, injuring the men as they tried to help.
After a few minutes, a motorcycle police officer arrived and told Dyson to move away from the scene. He watched as emergency workers rescued the man, carrying him down a ladder.
“I was surprised he was alive,” Dyson said, adding that the man’s body was badly burned. He was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.
The two-alarm fire was extinguished about 3:30 p.m. The cause is still under investigation, fire officials said, and no damage estimate was available.
Dyson said he was feeling in shock about the experience even hours afterward.
“We’re a community,” he said. “You want to help.”
Read our earlier story here.