83-year-old man loses life in Mountain View apartment fire

Dozens of displaced Mountain View residents returned home Thursday night, following a fatal apartment fire.

That blaze killed an 83-year-old resident of the Regency Apartments on Escuela Avenue just north of El Camino Real.

Firefighters said the two alarm blaze was under control within five minutes. But in that time, the flames managed to torch a section of the apartment complex, costing an elderly man his life.

"If you’re not scared of a building like this, then you’re too much into your comfort zone as a firefighter. You need to be scared of it. But this is what we train for," said Mountain View Fire Chief Juan Ruiz.

He said that 911 calls started coming in to the city’s dispatch center around 1 p.m. Wednesday. One of the second-floor apartments in the 142 apartment complex was ablaze.

"I think it was scary. Because the smoke went into the whole corridor of the second floor. And there’s a lot of smoke coming out of the window," said resident Uka Otgonchimeg, who lives on the 3rd floor.

First responders said the entire second floor hallway on the east side of the complex was filled with smoke.

"Most of the fire was extending, and venting the heat and the smoke, into the center hallway, which made it very difficult for the occupants as they exited their apartments," said Diaz.

Joseph Dukhovny, 83, was found in that hallway, overcome by smoke. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but pronounced dead.

Four residents were injured as they escaped the two alarm fire. Fifty people were displaced by the flames.

"My friends live on the second floor. So they’re dealing with water (damage). So they had to stay in my home for the night," said Otgonchimeg.

The American Red Cross in Silicon Valley used the Mountain View Senior Center, just across the street from the fire scene to support affected residents.

Firefighters said though the blaze caused severe damage in only five minutes, their efforts after that saved the entire structure, and additional lives.

"Aggressive interior firefighting attack, we were able to the unit of origin, and that’s very important on this type of a building," said Daiz.

The apartment that was the initial source of the fire, and the one below it, are a total loss. Officials said those residents are being housed temporarily in two vacant units within the complex.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.