SAN LEANDRO -- Two people, including a woman who shouted for help as neighbors desperately tried to rescue her, died Wednesday morning after a fire broke out in a trailer at a San Leandro mobile home park, a battalion chief said.
The one-alarm blaze started around 3:30 a.m. in the Estudillo Trailer Park at 1648 Grand Ave., and quickly destroyed the trailer, Batallion Chief Chuck Palmer said.
The identities and ages of the pair who perished were not released by fire officials, but a neighbor said an elderly man and woman lived in the trailer.
An Alameda County Coroner's deputy said Wednesday afternoon that the severe burns to the bodies would make fingerprint identification difficult. The coroner is asking anyone who is a family member to come forward to help identify the remains.
Crews used a "quick attack" to get to the fire, using tank water brought in the engines before tapping into a fire hydrant, and they knocked down the fire in about 10 minutes, Palmer said. When firefighters entered the trailer, they found one victim in a bed and a second elsewhere in the trailer.
One neighbor said she was sleeping in her trailer when she smelled smoke.
"I knew it was too late for somebody to be doing a barbecue, and the smoke really smelled," said neighbor Mildred Ortiz, a resident of the mobile home park for six years. "So I went outside, and I saw flames coming out the back of the trailer."
Ortiz said a friend and her son ran to the trailer and tried to break down the door and shatter the windows but that the latter were covered with thick cardboard. When someone finally pried open the door, the fire expanded to the front of the trailer in an instant, she said.
"I could hear a woman on the other side (of the windows), screaming, 'Help me! Help me!'" Ortiz said by phone. "I asked if she was OK, and (she) just was shouting, 'No, I'm not, no I'm not. Help me!' That was the last I heard."
Ortiz said garbage was strewed over the floor of the trailer and piled several feet high, preventing anyone from entering after the door was open. She said thick smoke and the heat of the flames also prevented them from rescuing the two.
Alameda County fire crews arrived four minutes after being dispatched to the fire at 3:36 a.m., Palmer said. He said the call to 911 was delayed for several minutes and encouraged citizens to dial the emergency number before attempting any rescue themselves.
Other trailers in the mobile home park weren't damaged, even though the trailers are parked very close to each other, Palmer said. Flames missed a wooden fence bordering the burned trailer and a palm tree that stood next to it.
The trailer blaze came just hours after Alameda County fire crews extinguished a fire at a portable building near the James L. Bunker Elementary School campus in Newark, Palmer said. Crews were called to that one-alarm blaze at 8:58 p.m. and extinguished it in minutes, Palmer said.
A caretaker for the campus was living in the building and uninjured, Palmer said. The building itself suffered major water damage, he said.
Fire investigators said neither fire appears suspicious.