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Los Banos apartment fire ‘could have been significant,’ says chief

Los Banos Fire Department Engine
Los Banos Fire Department Engine Merced Sun-Star file

Nobody suffered major injuries when a small apartment fire broke out in a downtown Los Banos apartment utility closet early Friday morning, officials said.

The fire was reported at about 3 a.m. at 543 I St., just west of Sixth Street, Los Banos Fire Chief Mason Hurley said.

One next-door resident had a small head laceration as he was escaping the building, but the resident refused medical treatment, Hurley said. No other injuries were reported.

Flames were contained to the utility room as firefighters worked to prevent the fire from spreading, Hurley said.

“This could have been a significant event,” Hurley said. “But because of the fast action of the crews, it was controlled rather quickly.”

While the fire itself didn’t cause major damage, the utility room had a water heater that caused some water lines to break, Hurley said. There was water and smoke damage throughout the apartment.

Some businesses underneath the apartments had some water damage to the ceilings as well, Hurley said.

The cause of the fire is believed to be electrical, Hurley said, noting the incident was under investigation and the Red Cross was on its way to provide assistance to the displaced residents.