Questions remain as to the precise cause of a catastrophic fire and explosion that destroyed a California nursing home Friday afternoon, May 7, 2021. Somehow all of the residents of the Castle Crest II Senior Care Facility made it out of the building alive following the explosion accident. Evidently neighborhood teenagers were the first to reach the scene of the explosion accident and helped elderly residents out of the building.
Investigators from the Contra Costa County Fire Department immediately began investigating the cause of the fire and explosion once the blaze at the nursing home was extinguished. Investigators have begun to make some tentative conclusions about the cause of the fire and explosion:
- In this case, authorities believe the fire preceded the explosion. Investigators also have all but finally concluded that the fire started outside of the facility, in a yard area where people are permitted to smoke. The fire appears to have started as a result of careless smoking had taken place. There is no indication if the smokers that may have been responsible for igniting the blaze were employees of the nursing home, residents of the facility, or both.
- The fire that evidently started outside the building apparently swept inside in little time. Early investigation indicates embers blew from the fire that started outside into the building. Three separate fires ignited inside the building after the embers blew in from out of doors.
- Ultimately, the fire spread throughout the building causing multiple oxygen canisters to explode. Neighbors in the area surrounding the nursing home advised that they could hear and feel the explosion or explosions occurred. There is yet no report to any damage caused to neighboring properties as a result of the nursing home explosion accident.
- The explosion or explosions evidently occurred after the residents were removed from the building by neighborhood teenagers who braved the fire and evacuated the elderly women and men. There is a consensus that had the explosion (or explosions) occurred while the residents were still inside the nursing home, they would not have survived the catastrophic explosion accident.
Steve Hill, the spokesperson for the Contra Costa County Fire Department, remarked that the combination of the outside fire and warm weather with windy conditions, coupled with the presence of multiple oxygen tanks inside the building, “we have a formula that is ripe for disaster.”
The nursing home evidently is owned by a woman who has not been identified as of this time. She was reached by media representatives at one point following the explosion accident and had little to say to them. She evidently only stated something to the effect that she “had been dealing with families and officials” in the aftermath of the explosion accident.
The residents of the nursing home were medically evaluated and then transferred to other facilities. There is no indication as to whether the Castle Crest II Senior Care Facility will be rebuilt and reopened. All current evidence suggests that it is in a state beyond repair following the blast.
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