Blaze guts Grass Valley apartment |

Blaze guts Grass Valley apartment

John HartOn Wednesday morning, fire burned this apartment at Springhill Gardens at 200 Dorsey Drive in Grass Valley.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

A woman recovering from surgery fled her Grass Valley apartment early Wednesday morning when she discovered smoke in a bedroom.

Jene Allum said she had “just finished saying her prayers” when the smoke alarm went off about 7:45 a.m. in her Springhill Gardens apartment at 200 Dorsey Drive.

She went into the bedroom where her son, Mark Allum, has been staying to help her recuperate from recent surgery, to find the room filled with smoke. She had been in the bedroom 15 minutes earlier to turn off a television that came on in response to an automatic timer and had seen nothing to indicate a fire.

“I don’t know how it happened,” said a stunned Allum, sitting in front of a neighbor’s house in her pajamas and bathrobe. Neighbor Cheryl Wade offered Allum her bedroom slippers. “It happened so fast, I can’t believe it,” Allum said.

Several engines from two fire departments, Grass Valley and Nevada County Consolidated fire protection districts, responded to stop the fire before 9 a.m. Allum’s apartment and contents were consumed, and the bathroom of the adjacent apartment destroyed.

No one was injured.

Allum’s neighbor, Kenn Borras, said Allum pounded on the wall to alert him around 8 a.m., Borras said. Allum went outside to tell Borras to get out of his apartment because there was a fire. Borras told his 16-year-old son Kyle Borras, home from school ill, to get out of bed.

Borras, who worked as a fire fighter for Washington Fire Department in the 1980s, broke open the fire extinguisher on an outside wall and entered Allum’s apartment to try to extinguish the fire.

“Things were melting, so I decided to back the hell out,” said Borras, who fought 1988’s 49er Fire.

Allum said she tried to call 9-1-1 on her phone, but it was dead. She placed a call on her cell phone.

A large black column of smoke was visible from such a distance that a friend called Kari Churchman to ask her if she was aware there was a fire near her. When Churchman looked outside and saw flames, “I pulled my 6-year-old son out of the bathtub,” Churchman said.

Allum may move into another apartment within the complex.

Grass Valley Fire Department Battalion Chief Thomas Browning said it was too early to determine what caused the fire.

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