Workers stripping paint from kitchen cabinets apparently touched off a flash fire in the kitchen of an expensive Anaheim Hills home Thursday afternoon, and the flames devoured 80% of the house before firefighters could extinguish them, a fire department spokesman said.
The loss was estimated at $500,000 to the house and its contents. Although two of the residents and as many as four workmen were in the house when the explosion occurred, no one was injured, the spokesman said.
Dispatcher Jonathan Wilkes quoted fire investigators as reporting that it appeared the fumes from the paint stripper were touched off when a worker accidentally drew his steel wool against an exposed electrical socket, causing a spark.
Capt. Tom Barnes said the fire spread with unusual speed. He said the fire department was called almost immediately after the explosion but the house was engulfed in flame by the time the first trucks arrived.
The house at 579 S. Los Coyotes Drive is the home of Robert and Ethelyn Meehan and their 17-year-old daughter, Deirdre. Robert Meehan, an engineer for McDonnell Douglas in Huntington Beach, said his family was "devastated" by the fire.
He said he had just hired the original builder of the house to improve it, including a lot of interior refinishing.
He said his wife was very near the kitchen when the explosion occurred.
Barnes said, "There was just enough time for them (Meehan's wife and the workers) to slap at the fire a couple of times, then realize they couldn't do anything and jump out the door."