Ivette Arana watched as firefighters gutted the flame ravaged ceiling of her Canyon Country apartment.
“Am I going to be able to go home,” the woman, a bit over five feet in height said to the tall firefighter with the helmet.
The man, a battalion chief responsible for the safety of Santa Clarita’s east side, told her it would be some time before he had a definitive answer.
Just 30 minutes before their exchange, Arana’s two young boys were dozing in their warm beds. The mother had just finished her shower and was deeply embedded in a movie.
A light gleaming between the plastic blinds shielding her home from public eye caught her attention.
Arana recalled going to switch off the outdoor light above her balcony.
“I went to go see it and turn it off,” she said. “Then I saw flames.”
At 12:32 a.m., the mother used her smartphone to dial 9-1-1.
After alerting authorities to the fast-moving blaze, a quick thinking county fire dispatcher made Arana aware of the seriousness of the situation and urged her to get her children out of the building.
Within minutes, a barrage of red, white and blue strobe lights flooded the 27000 block of Sumac Court as fire engine company No. 107 thundered in, a sheriff’s patrol car a few seconds behind.
A fire captain alerted dispatchers to light smoke trickling from the two-story apartment building’s balcony.
The crew disembarked from the mammoth fire engine to investigate and were immediately basked in red light.
The firefighters were joined by the raised aerial ladder of Quint No. 104. Two men in reflective brush jackets climbed the white horizontal steps now raised over the rooftop of the burning building.
The thunderous roar of pumps activating in the background gave way to high pressure water shooting into a deep fog of smoke, the source of which was still unknown.
Firefighters from battalion 22 work to vent the rooftop of an apartment building on Sumac Court in Canyon Country Tuesday morning. Austin Dave/SIGNAL
Chainsaws began to slice through tile, guided by firefighters positioned on the building’s roof.
Two sheriff’s deputies working to comfort Arana turned their attention to a bright orange glow erupting from the rooftop near the firefighters.
Firefighters form a plan near Fire Engine No. 107 at the scene of an apartment blaze. Austin Dave/SIGNAL
Multiple hoselines switched on and battled back the flames which had overtaken the attic.
Heavy smoke poured out of the roof’s southeast corner before spreading rapidly to the opposite end.
Fire erupts from the rooftop of a Canyon Country apartment building early Tuesday morning. Austin Dave/SIGNAL
Five engines, two truck companies, a paramedic unit and the battalion chief – a total of 35 firefighters worked in tandem to duel with the inferno, armed with a plan and cool, crisp water.
The firefight lasted 71 minutes before Battalion Chief Darus Ane signaled victory to county dispatchers.
After the dust settled and the smoke gave way to a foggy nighttime sky, assessments determined the blaze had damaged five units, Supervising Fire Dispatcher Ed Pickett revealed.
A fire captain walks with Battalion Chief Darus Ane at the scene of an apartment fire Tuesday morning. Austin Dave/SIGNAL
Two of the homes, including Arana’s were deemed uninhabitable.
American Red Cross resources were requested for the displaced families.
But through the haze of smoke and past the roar of fire engines was a silver lining for Arana.
Her boys were safe and her dog, who normally resides on the balcony, was alive.