Fire survivors say neighbor may have sparked San Jose blaze by smoking near oxygen tank

A woman is fighting for her life at a South Bay hospital after an explosion started a fire, damaging an apartment complex Tuesday.

"I was really scared because I didn’t know what to do," said resident Andrew Guzman. "I’ve never experienced anything like this ever in my life."

Guzman said he was inside his ground floor apartment just before 11 a.m. in the 1300 block of Lick Avenue in San Jose when he heard an explosion and then saw smoke.

The complex is made up of four units, and the fire appears to have sparked in one of them.

"I just walked out, and I saw in my hallway, black smoke everywhere," Guzman said, who immediately alerted his 17-year-old twin brother Jerimiah.

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"More fire is coming in, so I’m just trying to put it out with bowls [of water]. But that’s not working so I just grabbed our two bikes – my bike and my brother’s bike. and then we just go outside," Jerimiah recalled, as he first tried to tap out the flames before ultimately fleeing to safety.

A total of 35 San Jose firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire.

"Upon arrival, the first arriving engine company found heavy smoke and fire coming from one side of the building," said Captain Keith Woeste of the San Jose Fire Department. "Access was pretty good, and we got a good quick knockdown shortly after arrival."

Fire officials said one resident was rescued and CPR was administered to the victim until paramedics arrived to transport her to a nearby hospital. Authorities said the woman has life-threatening injuries.

Several fire victims said the woman may have sparked the fire by smoking near oxygen tanks.

"She has a sign right there, that says no smoking. And she just smokes. It’s weird," said Andrew Guzman.

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Arson investigators are looking into those claims, but the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Officials said if not for Andrew's fast actions to save his twin, the injury toll could have been higher.

"Very thankful to be alive," said Jerimiah.

Fire officials said three of the four units sustained damage, leaving six residents displaced. The American Red Cross is assisting those people.