Flames damaged three units of an apartment complex in Fullerton Friday, prompting a temporary lockdown at a nearby elementary school amid reports of an explosion.
Paramedics treated two people at the scene for smoke inhalation but they declined to be taken to an area hospital, said Fullerton Fire Department Battalion Chief Kathy Schaefer.
The flames erupted about 1 p.m. at the complex in the 700 block of Malvern Avenue, sending a thick plume of smoke into the air as fire shot through the roof of the single-story building.
A neighbor told KTLA5 he initially smelled smoke, ran outside and used a garden hose to try to spray the burning building from the other side of a fence. He said after about 30 seconds, there was an explosion that knocked him backward.
Nearby Fern Drive Elementary School was placed on a precautionary lockdown as crews battled the two-alarm blaze and worked to determine its cause.
Some reports from the scene indicated that a propane tank may have exploded, fueling the blaze.
Schaefer said that was possible but the cause was under investigation. She said the tenant of the apartment where the fire started had lived there for about 30 years and had accumulated a great deal of tools and machines in the side yard.
Firefighters from Brea, Fullerton, Anaheim, Orange County Fire Authority and Orange helped douse the flames, Schaefer said. The fire was contained mostly to one apartment, but there was damage to two others, she added.
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