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Fire destroyed elderly woman’s apartment in Santa Rosa

Fire broke out at an east Santa Rosa apartment complex for seniors Sunday morning, destroying one unit and displacing a woman who lived there, fire officials said.

Firefighters stopped the blaze at the Friends House on Benicia Drive from spreading to two adjacent apartments and were able to retrieve some essential belongings, Santa Rosa Fire Department Battalion Chief Scott Westrope said. No one was hurt, he said.

The fire alarm sounded at 7:16 a.m., followed by several 911 calls from the property.

Heavy fire and smoke was coming from the back and front of the single-story, one-bedroom apartment when the first firefighter arrived at 7:22 a.m. The resident, Nancy Wilkins, and a next-door neighbor were already outside the units, Westrope said.

The fire appeared to have started in a bedroom.

Crews launched an “aggressive internal fire attack” to knock it down before it spread to units on either side, Westrope said. They had the fire contained by 7:33 a.m.

The apartment was “a total loss,” causing an estimated $100,000 in damage, Westrope said.

Facility staff were expected to move Wilkins to another unit, and she has family in town, he said.

The cause of the fire, which appeared to be accidental, is still under investigation.

-Julie Johnson

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