Investigators have determined that a laundry room dryer sparked Wednesday’s two-alarm fire in Goleta, which burned and badly damaged four homes.
All four houses were deemed uninhabitable, although one only temporarily — a fourth home moderately damaged by radiation of heat, according to Mike Eliason, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman.
One county firefighter, who was transported to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital with heat-related injuries and a leg injury, was treated and released, Eliason said.
Crews were dispatched at 4:49 p.m. Wednesday to the 600 block of Dara Road, off Cathedral Oaks Road between Fairview and Patterson avenues.
A female resident of a single-story home apparently had been sleeping when she suddenly woke to the blaring of her smoke detector, Eliason said.
The fire sparked in corrugated metal at the rear of the dryer, where lint build-up fueled the blaze, he said.
“The working smoke detector saved her,” Eliason said. “Having a working smoke detector is a very important thing.”
When her attempts to put out the fire failed, she called 9-1-1, he said.
The first arriving units reported heavy black smoke and flames coming from the structure, Eliason said, at which point a second-alarm was sent.
As more crews were called in — including firefighters from the City of Santa Barbara — a second home next door caught fire, and the blaze then leapt to two other homes, helped by 30 mph westward winds.
The fire was knocked down in about an hour, and all crews cleared the scene by late evening.
Eliason said he didn’t know the exact number of residents left homeless, but the American Red Cross was assisting.
Investigators were still working to determine the cost of damages Thursday.
Eliason said the fast-moving fire should help remind residents to regularly check their smoke detector batteries and clean out dryer lint traps.
He also encouraged people to call authorities immediately before trying to put out a blaze, so help could be well on the way.