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Fire at Balboa Bay Club

An apartment blaze at the resort forces evacuations, but fire crews quickly extinguished it.

January 04, 2007|By Amanda Pennington and Michael Miller

Firefighters evacuated the fourth floor of the Balboa Bay Club & Resort after an apartment caught fire Wednesday evening.

Shortly before 5 p.m., George Lysak, executive director of sales and marketing for the club, returned to his apartment and found smoke billowing inside. He called the club's engineering department, which then contacted the Newport Beach Fire and Police Departments and evacuated the building.

A Newport Beach Fire Department truck was driving by the club at that time, said Jennifer Schulz, spokeswoman for the Newport Beach fire department.

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Firefighters saw smoke, hooked up to fire hydrants and waited for more firefighters to respond, she said.

Within half an hour, the fire department — with help from additional personnel from Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa — contained the two-alarm blaze. Residents of lower floors returned to their apartments soon after, but the fourth floor remained evacuated until fire inspectors could approve it.

On West Coast Highway, police diverted traffic away from the Bay Club. No one was hurt in the blaze, officials said.

"The fire department did a good job," Lysak said.

"We [the Bay Club] did a good job of checking apartments, and it was contained relatively quickly."

Lysak, who planned to spend the night in another room, said he was concerned about some items in his apartment, including photographs, a chest of silver and a diamond ring.

Authorities could not say yet whether other apartments had been damaged.

The fire, which started in the bedroom, caused $100,000 in damage to the structure and $150,000 in damage to the contents of the apartment, Schulz said.

An investigation into the fire's cause is ongoing, but it may not produce an answer for a few days, Schulz said.

Alexander Gaal, 94, who has an apartment on the third floor, said a firefighter knocked on his door and asked him to leave. About a half-hour later, the club's security guard told residents they could go back to their rooms.

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