Sunset Beach Homeowners Return to Survey Fire Damage

"It's really wonderful that everyone got out safely. That's the important thing"

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Friday, May 13, 2011  |  Updated 12:54 PM PDT
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Homeowners return the day after a fire destroyed and damaged homes at Sunset Beach.

Homeowners return the day after a fire destroyed and damaged homes at Sunset Beach.

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Sunset Beach House Collapses During Fire

Dramatic video of a beach-front home collapsing during a fire. The home was one of several that burned near the 16500 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Sunset Beach
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Homeowners returned to look over the damage Friday morning after a fire burned beach homes Thursday at Sunset Beach.

Mark Athcheson just moved to his home in March. He said he arrived home at about 12:30 a.m. to see a burned hole in the side of his home.

"The roof is starting to bow," Atchenson said. "I have everything that is important to me -- pictures, DVDs of the kids. That's really all that matters to me.

"I'm kind of numb."

Athcheson's home was red-tagged. He said it looks as though the structure might collapse.

"I always imagined we'd have an earthquake or a tsunami, but never a fire," said Amy Lipeles, one of the homeowners. "It's really wonderful that everyone got out safely. That's the important thing."

Lipeles spoke with NBC LA before entering her home. She said the one thing she was hoping to find was a quilt she had won.

Flareups continued early Friday, hours after the home collapsed Thursday evening after being consumed by a five-alarm fire. The beachfront home at 16577 North Pacific Avenue burned for about 40 minutes before the frame gave way to stubborn flames and fell to the ground.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Greg McKeown told NBC4 LA a spark from a flaming briquette blew from a deck barbecue and caught the underbelly of the wooden deck on fire.  A three-story house collapsed and beachfront homes on either side of the house were damaged, but most likely salvageable, according to Capt. McKeown. 

A fourth home just south of the fire sustained minor fire and water damage.

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