Children playing with lighter blamed for apartment fire

Two children playing with a lighter caused a fire that displaced 55 people at an apartment complex Thursday afternoon, a Santa Rosa Fire Department battalion chief said.

The fire that started in a couch around 2:40 p.m. spread to an open attic over four single-story apartments at 943 Aston Ave., Battalion Chief Matt Dahl said.

Firefighters cut holes in the roof to release fire and smoke, and removed sheetrock and older, cellulose insulation where the fire was smoldering, Dahl said.

Twenty-nine firefighters responded because of the ambient heat and extensive work involved and to relieve fellow firefighters, Dahl said.

PG&E shut off electric power for the safety of residents and 25 people who were displaced by the fire found shelter through the Red Cross, Dahl said.

The Rincon Valley Fire Department and Santa Rosa police also responded to the fire.