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Five escape from apartment fire

COMFORTING each other while firefighters extinguish the fire in their apartment building are father and son, Bruce Curtis III and Bruce Curtis II. (Lenore Rutherford/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).
COMFORTING each other while firefighters extinguish the fire in their apartment building are father and son, Bruce Curtis III and Bruce Curtis II. (Lenore Rutherford/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).

By LENORE RUTHERFORD

A father and son escaped a fire near downtown Sonora by jumping from a second-story window this morning.

Investigators said they believe the fire was contained to a single bedroom in a first-floor apartment on the 500 block of Barretta Street in Sonora this morning.

"I heard somebody fighting or yelling downstairs," said Bruce Curtis II, 50, moments after he and his son, Bruce Curtis III, 15, jumped from their apartment about 7:10 a.m., just about the time the fire was reported.

"I heard somebody downstairs screaming to call the fire department and get a hose," he said. "My son was in the shower. I grabbed him and we opened the front door to go downstairs, but there was too much smoke in the hallway, so I closed that door, and we headed for the window. That was all we could do."

The younger Curtis grabbed a shirt and pair of shorts on the way out.

They were both taken to Tuolumne General Hospital for treatment. The father's condition was listed as stable at 9:15 a.m., and a hospital spokeswoman said Curtis' son was treated for minor injuries and released.

Tom Purdy, 44, the tenant of the first-floor apartment where the fire started, had his hair singed, and his hand was burned. He was treated and returned to the fire scene within an hour, Sonora Fire Chief Mike Barrows said.

Barrows said Sonora Police Officer John Mager also received minor burns to his right hand while using a fire extinguisher.

Also at the apartment when the fire began were two of Purdy's house guests, Tuolumne County Fire Department spokeswoman Deborah Fish said.

Barrows said the cause of the fire was under investigation this morning.

Sonora Police Officer Chris Rogers, a member of the county fire investigation unit, is in charge of the inquiry. He was not available for comment this morning.


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