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Investigators Can’t Pinpoint Cause of Fire That Destroyed Montecito Cottage

But they believe the April 7 blaze was accidental and may have been caused by an electrical problem

Investigators can’t tell for certain what caused a fast-moving fire that destroyed a Montecito cottage earlier this month, but believe it was accidental and most likely stemmed from an electrical malfunction, according to the Montecito Fire Protection District.

Flames quickly consumed the small residence on the 400 block of Cota Lane, one of several on the property, the night of April 7, and a nearby cottage also was damaged.

Two residents of the home escaped without injury. No damage estimate was provided.

The fire started in a bathroom in the northeast corner of the small structure, according to Montecito Fire Marshall Al Gregson, the lead investigator on the incident.

The residents described using a “daisy chain” of multiple extension cords, a space heater, lamps and other electrical devices in that area, Gregson said, any of which could have sparked the fire. But he said firefighters probing the ruins couldn’t pinpoint the cause.

“We are done (with the investigation) at this point,” Gregson said. “We gave it our best shot,”

Flames spread quickly, Gregson said, due to the age and construction of the 600-square-foot structure — built in the 1920s, redwood single-wall construction, open-beam ceilings and shake shingle roof. Flames also were fueled by a 20-year accumulation of belongings, Gregson said.

The residents made a brief attempt to douse the flames themselves before exiting the structure and calling 9-1-1, Gregson said.

Firefighters arrived shortly after 9 p.m., and found the single-story home engulfed in flames, according to fire district spokeswoman Geri Ventura.

Downed power lines, caused by the fire, hampered the initial response, Gregson said, but crews were able to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby homes.

Gregson described the residents, who were not identified, as being “very distraught.” They were assisted after the fire by the American Red Cross.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

A fast-moving structure fire destroyed a home in the 400 block of Cota Lane in Montecito on Saturday night. There were no injuries reported in the blaze. The cause is under investigation. (Bill Macfadyen / Noozhawk video via iPhone)

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