Man injured in southeast Santa Rosa apartment fire that killed cat

Firefighters say “a wall heater with combustible materials nearby” may have played a role in a fire that damaged a Santa Rosa apartment and left a man hospitalized with minor cuts and smoke inhalation Friday afternoon.

The apartment fire on Yulupa Avenue near Mayette Avenue was reported at 1:23 p.m., Santa Rosa Fire Department Battalion Chief Jason Jenkins said while firefighters stood yards away on the roof of the burning home.

Firefighters forced their way into the home and found the fire burning in the living room and bedroom, the fire department said in a news release.

The fire was under control about 20 minutes after firefighters arrived.

Its exact cause is under investigation, and damage is estimated at $100,000. The American Red Cross is assisting the occupant.

Flames “heavily damaged” the unit, but all others were still habitable and residents returned home after being evacuated from the two-story building, Jenkins said.

A woman living in the destroyed unit, which was on the second floor, said she and her mother were not around during the fire but her son and his girlfriend were outside.

A neighbor alerted her son to the fire and he ran inside to rescue her cat, she told The Press Democrat.

He broke a window to get inside and was taken to Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for cuts and smoke inhalation, Jenkins said.

The man’s mother, who declined to give her name, said her son is doing well but “he’ll need some stitches.”

She confirmed her 4-year-old cat, Shadow, died in the fire.

“She was a feisty little cat,” the woman said.

Shadow was discovered under a bed, the fire department said.

Fire officials were unsure of exactly how many people were evacuated because of the fire. Firefighters were present for about two hours while the smoke lingered in the air.

Nate Rasmason, 39, lives next door and said he heard some alarms go off before seeing smoke and fire coming from the unit.

Firefighters arrived within minutes and he waved them down. While outside, he heard the sound of popping and glass breaking.

All in all, damage was done within a short amount of time.

“I don't think it was that long,” Rasmason said.

You can reach Staff Writers Colin Atagi at 707-521-5390 or and Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or

Alana Minkler

Breaking news & general assignment reporter, The Press Democrat

The world is filled with stories that inspire compassion, wonder, laughs and even tears. As a Press Democrat reporter covering breaking news, tribes and youth, it’s my goal to give others a voice to share these stories.

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