Two Firefighters Among Four Killed In San Pablo Fire

An early-morning house fire Saturday killed four people, including two firefighters trapped by surging flames while trying to rescue one of the home's residents, authorities said.

Fire Captain Matt C. Burton, 34, of Concord and Fire Engineer Scott P. Desmond, 37, of Brentwood died in the blaze that broke out around 1:45 a.m., said Emily Hopkins, spokeswoman for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

A 67-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman who lived in the San Pablo house also died in the blaze. Their names were not yet released.

One of the residents had already been found when the firefighters plunged back into the burning building to find the other person.

Firefighters on the scene then "heard kind of a whoosh sound, and the fire started going through the rooms," Contra Costa Fire Chief Keith Richter said. "That trapped the firefighters."

The men were wearing standard safety equipment when they were
caught in a "flashover" in which hot gasses trapped in a burning
structure ignite in a sudden burst of flame, Richter said.

The firefighters' on-duty deaths were the first in the fire
district's history, Richter said.

Investigators, including officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, blocked off the residential street as they tried to determine what started the fire.


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