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Frightened Raccoon Helps Keep Tragic Fire From Spreading

The home near the San Leandro Marina where a fire that claimed one life could have easily spread to neighboring homes.

One man is dead and his home sits gutted by a blaze that could have spread further had not a neighbor, awakened by a raccoon scratching frantically on her roof, gotten up in the wee hours of Wednesday morning to sound the alarm.

Authorities have not yet identified the man who died Wednesday from injuries sustained in an early morning blaze at 13115 Neptune Drive, a quiet street just a short walk from the San Leandro Marina.

But Yoshiko Kido, a neighbor of the deceased, told this story of how luck played a role in helping contain the fire and limit the chance of further injury.

The Layout

The home that burned was one of three units on a narrow parcel. The master house butts up to the Bay. A pair of rental units lie east of it, one in front of the other.

A gravel driveway on the south side of the property leads to the master house.

It passes the two rental units whose front doors open onto the driveway

The rentals are separated by a roofed area wide enough for two cars.  

The victim lived in the rental that is closest to Neptune Drive.

Kido rented the unit in the middle.

A Rude Awakening

Kido told Patch that before dawn on Wednesday she was awakened by a raccoon that nests above her house. It was pawing insistently on her roof.

When she went outside to investigate she saw the picture window in the other rental house glowing red.

Moments later the window exploded, sending shards of glass into the driveway.

“I looked at my watch,” Kido told Patch. It was 4:55 am.

She ran back into her house to dial 911 but her phone was out.

So she ran back to the master house owned by Raffi Demirjian and pounded on the door until it was answered, and they were able to call 911.

Kido said they then ran back into the driveway in a futile effort to extinguish the red-hot blaze with a half-inch garden hose and hand-held red fire extinguishers.

A Tragedy

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blaze that, Kido said, started in the living room.

She said firefighters found the victim in his bedroom and took him to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

The home is gutted. The rafters look like charcoal. The walls are black with soot even in the bedroom, which shows no direct fire damage.

And as far as Kido is concerned, it was only the rambunctious raccoon on her roof who kept things from being even worse.

Denise Meri February 08, 2013 at 12:10 AM
To any of Dennis's neighbors know if his cat survived the fire?
Rick Williams February 08, 2013 at 04:12 AM
I live right next door and I never saw a cat and he never mentioned that he had one. No signs of a deceased cat either. There are tons of cats around here and maybe he fed one? Rick...

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