Firefighters haven’t determined what started a two-alarm fire in Pescadero Thursday morning. The fire broke out in a seven-bedroom dormitory for farmworkers located just off Bean Hollow Road.

There were four people in the building when fire broke out at about 8:30 a.m. Firefighters credit working smoke alarms for saving lives.

“I was asleep and heard the smoke alarms just vaguely,” said one man who was in the building at the time. “I just grabbed my brother and sister and got out.” He said there was one other woman in the building at the time.

For a time, dense smoke billowed from the building, which is not far from the bluffs and just south of Artichoke Road. The fire burned for nearly three hours.

Cal Fire Division Chief Rich Sampson said Thursday afternoon that crews hadn’t determined a cause but that they were focused on the kitchen area.

The man who was inside the building said he thought the fire erupted from a refrigerator.

There were more than a dozen fire trucks on the one-lane dirt road leading to the housing area. The call resulted in two alarms and firefighters were able to keep the blaze from nearby dry grass and farmland.

The San Mateo County Chapter of the American Red Cross responded, as did the South Coast social services organization Puente de la Costa Sur. Puente offered the displaced creature comforts, such as blankets, according to Executive Director Kerry Loebel. Red Cross workers were still at the scene Thursday afternoon.

The housing is owned by Marchi Central Farms, which has had other, unrelated, troubles with the housing it operates. In 2010, the farm was cited for providing its housing units water that contained toxic levels of nitrates. The county subsequently “red tagged” the housing units, forcing about 60 people from their homes. Since then, farm owners have improved the property, including the addition of a new water treatment system.


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