Explosion Wakes Irvine Condo Residents Before Escape From ‘Giant' Fire

The fire displaced 12 adults and three teenagers, a total of 6 families

A late-night fire destroyed condominiums in Irvine and damaged additional units on Thursday, but residents escaped after they awoke to an explosion, firefighters said.

The fire was reported just before 12 a.m. in the 20 block of Silverwood Street, firefighters said.

The blaze destroyed four garages and three condos. The fire also caused smoke and water damage to three nearby units and destroyed at least two vehicles, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

About 75 firefighters put out the "stubborn" 3-alarm fire around 1:07 a.m.

Fifteen people were displaced, including 13 adults and two teens, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

"All our pictures and memories are in there," said Rupal Banerjee, 16. "That would have been a big loss.

"I was so worried. The flames were massive. They were giant. Everyone was running around."

Banerjee said neighbors were trying to make sure everyone was out of the residences. Her mother told NBC4 an explosion jolted her out of bed.

"We were fast asleep," said Atraye Banerjee. "All of the sudden I heard the explosion. I found out there were flames in the sky.

"I was thinking that all the houses are going to burn down because they are all attached. My first thought was to tell the neighbors so their lives can be saved."

The fire appeared to start in one of the property's garages, which are below the residences. Concrete strips between the structures probably kept the fire from spreading, Rupal Banerjee said.

Damage was estimated at $1 million and $500,000 for the contents inside the properties.

The Red Cross was at the scene of the fire to help the displaced residents.

One firefighter injured his knee and was transported to a hospital for evaluation, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

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