Fire inspectors issued a citation for “imminent threats to life safety” related to an alarm at the Grand Lake Gardens senior living community a week before Friday’s early morning fire, records show.
A fire broke out on the fifth floor of one of two buildings in the 400 block of Santa Clara Avenue in Oakland, prompting a mass evacuation and resulting in the treatment of a firefighter and three occupants for smoke inhalation.
According to fire inspection records, an inspection on October 7 revealed a problem with the alarm system on the sixth floor of one of the buildings. The report did not elaborate on specific deficiencies, but a department spokesman said Friday that it was related to a signaling problem and that none of the problems inspectors found played a role in the fire or hindered firefighting efforts.
“The systems that firefighters and residents rely on worked well and probably saved lives,” said Oakland Fire Department Chief of Public Information and Personnel Michael Hunt.
The letter accompanying the citation said inspectors would return the next day to make sure the problem was fixed. The re-inspection, however, did not take place, according to Hunt.
Hunt said inspectors are scheduled to return on Tuesday, but it is unclear whether that date was set before or after Friday’s fire.
The department says the fire started after a resident saw sparks from a divorce apparently ignite a blanket and couch and engulf her apartment.
The alarm problem is flagged as non-compliant “red” and requires immediate attention, according to the citation. The building’s sprinkler system, which Hunt said is limited to the building’s kitchens and bathrooms, was inspected and found to be in working order.
The allegation indicated that the entire alarm system was late for testing, and the cleaning of hoods and ducts was also late.