Montclair family describes frightening escape from raging fire

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A family, including a pregnant mother and her young son, said they fled their home with just the clothes on their backs after a massive fire broke out at a nearby recycling plant in Montclair. (KABC)

A family, including a pregnant mother and her young son, said they fled their home with just the clothes on their backs after a massive fire broke out at a nearby recycling plant in Montclair.

The devastating blaze was so intense that it melted metal wheels and burned at least two homes to the ground.

"I'm crying. All the savings of my daughters and my son-in-law are gone," said Ruben Velasco.

Diana Velasco's house was reduced to rubble. The expectant mother and her 3-year-old son Andrew barely had time to escape. The roof of their home was already on fire when they ran for their lives.

"She literally left her house with all she had on and she couldn't even grab her son's puppy," said Erika Beltran, Diana's sister. "I know she's trying to be strong for all of us, but she's devastated."

Erika set up a GoFundMe page to help her sister and her family. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/5fx7uedw.

The fast-moving blaze broke out around 2 p.m. Monday at a recycling and storage facility in the 4600 block of E. State Street in Montclair. The fire quickly jumped to a nearby tree with winds helping fuel the flames, which spread to homes and businesses.

Loud explosions could be heard as firefighters battled to stop the blaze. The fire sent a huge plume of black smoke into the air, which could be seen for miles.

In addition to destroying two homes, the fire also damaged three detached garages and another home in the area.

Residents said two years ago, there was another fire at the facility, but it was nothing like this.

Dan Carolan is one of several residents picking up the pieces after the blaze ripped through his property.

"It started taking off, and winds were blowing, and then it just wiped everything out," Carolan described. "It's my whole life. Forty years. We'll go from there."

One resident suffered some smoke inhalation, and one firefighter incurred a minor burn while battling the blaze.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Related Topics:
newsfirebuilding fireMontclairSan Bernardino County
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