Two Families Displaced as Blaze Destroys Homes

South Pasadena Firefighter John Papadakis (left) works with 44 other firefighters to extinguish a housefire at 708 Charter Oak Street, August 21. Photo by Henk Friezer

The Ebner family and Durrett family have been displaced after a fire destroyed both their homes on Charter Oak Street in South Pasadena on Wednesday afternoon, according to officials. There were no reported injuries to occupants or firefighters as a result of the fires at 708 Charter Oak St. and 700 Charter Oak St., but two cats were still unaccounted for as of Friday.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation as of Friday afternoon.

“We had two homes with significant damage that are actually red tagged so they’re unable to be inhabited,” said South Pasadena Fire Department and San Marino Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Szenczi.

Two adults and six children escaped unharmed from one of the houses, Szenczi said.

According to homeowner Brendan Durrett, two of their five cats — Zelda and Lily — were still missing as of Friday afternoon. The family has left food near the house, hoping to encourage them to return. The family also handed out flyers of the two missing cats and asked for the public’s help in finding them. If found, call (626) 755-7462.

A GoFundMe has been set up to support Denise Durrett, Brendan Durrett and their family of 708 Charter Oak St. for necessities and needs of their children as they start school. 

Another GoFundMe was established to support the Ebner family of 700 Charter Oak St. According to the post, Izzy Ebner, her husband, their three children and one dog have been displaced with most of their belongings burned. The funds will go towards the family’s immediate needs and the process of finding new housing and replacing their belongings.

A second GoFundMe for the Durrett family raised $8,860 of a $5,000 goal.

Six area fire departments responded to the two-alarm blaze, with 45 firefighters involved on scene.

Firefighters battled the blaze in temperatures that approached 100 degrees, and when it finally was extinguished, they could be seen catching their breath and cooling off on nearby lawns.

The fire was first reported at 3:08 p.m., according to South Pasadena Fire Chief Paul Riddle.

The first fire truck to arrive on scene was from Pasadena, Riddle said.

“Once on scene they reported heavy smoke and flames showing from the dispatch address with flames impinging on the house just west which was 700 Charter Oak,” said Riddle. “They immediately called for a second alarm and we started to get units responding from Pasadena, Alhambra, San Marino, L.A. City and San Gabriel.” Glendale firefighters also responded.

The departments soon went on “defensive attack” to get everyone out of the structure at 708 Charter Oak St. due to structural collapse, according to Riddle.

Riddle said 911 was first called by a young girl in the home at 708 Charter Oak St.

“Per the occupant, she heard something pop in the restroom, she looked, saw fire and everyone evacuated,” Riddle told the Review. “That was a good heads-up on that little girl’s part.”