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Fire Roars Through Walnut Creek Downtown Apartment

Blaze broke out in the early morning darkness at Lincoln Avenue apartments; Ali Reza Mahmoudzadhe lost everything but his cellphone in the fire.

Fire Roars Through Walnut Creek Downtown Apartment Fire Roars Through Walnut Creek Downtown Apartment

Updated: 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, interview with Ali Reza Mahmoudzadhe.

Ali Reza Mahmoudzadhe was jolted awake out of a dream by the sound of the smoke alarm in his Lincoln Avenue apartment.

The 35-year-old ran into the living room, which was filled with smoke. The drapes were in flames.

Mahmoudzadhe grabbed his cell phone and dashed out the door. He tried to call 9-1-1 but the phone didn't connect. Two flights of exterior stairs down, on the street, a neighbor was having a beer, Mahmoudzadhe said. The neighbor called 9-1-1.

The Walnut Creek Police Department — a quarter-mile away — arrived first. Then, 10 minutes later, firefighters arrived.

"The baby was at a friend's home," said a dazed Mahmoudzadhe four hours later. "That's a good thing."

Mahmoudzadhe's wife and 10-year-old son were staying with a friend in Moraga. Among the charred remnants in the apartment was the baby's crib.

Mahmoudzadhe said he lost everything but the cellphone in the fire. He said he was not insured. The American Red Cross was on the scene mid-morning Tuesday talking to Mahmoudzadhe about a place to stay and some relief.

Mahmoudzadhe said the fire was around 5 a.m. Patch blogger Danny Milks, who got a photo of the second-floor apartment in flames, thought it was an hour earlier.

In an interview with Mahmoudzadhe in the mid-morning, he was wearing clothes lent to him by a neighbor. Mahmoudzadhe is a student at Diablo Valley College, aiming for a degree there or online in computer science. He works at Round Table Pizza. For almost three years, he has lived at the Lincoln Terrace Apartments. The apartments are at the dead end of Lincoln Avenue where it meets the Iron Horse Trail in downtown Walnut Creek.

Mahmoudzadhe thinks the fire may have started in an outlet for the television in the living room. He said it was a secure outlet.

Mahmoudzadhe said he had felt nauseous at the time of the fire. Later in the morning, he had a headache. He did not seek medical attention.

Mahmoudzadhe's second-floor apartment was gutted, with holes burned through the roof in places. There was evidence smoke and water damage to the apartment below.

Milks said it took about an hour for firefighters to extinguish the fire. No ambulances came to the scene, so it appeared no one was hurt. He reported five fire trucks and eight other emergency vehicles were at the scene. Neighbors, some still wearing pajamas, huddled in the crisp air and watched firefighters battle the flames.

Our thanks to Milks for providing information and photos.

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