Inspector Had Cited Site of Fatal Fire for Five Violations

The Santa Clara apartment complex where a 7-year-old girl died over the weekend had been singled out by a fire inspector in October for five violations, including a warning to make sure all smoke detectors were working.

Fire officials say there was one smoke alarm inside the gutted apartment, but investigators did not find a battery inside it.

Sunday's fire, which killed Cindy Bui, was likely caused by a faulty electrical cord that ran behind and under a sofa. The cord was connected to decorative lighting in the apartment. On Monday, fire investigators continued to scour through the charred remains of the apartment.

Santa Clara's fire marshal, Martin Von Raesfeld, said during the Oct. 27 inspection of the four-unit property at 854 Bing Dr., an inspector found violations ``common to apartment complexes'' -- obscured signs, a fire extinguisher that had not been serviced in a year, uncovered electrical boxes, and a water heater that had not been seismically secured.

Von Raesfeld said a violation letter was sent to the property manager noting the violations along with a statement to make sure the smoke detectors were in working order.

On Sunday, a fire quickly overwhelmed the small upstairs unit shortly before 2:30 a.m. Cindy, who lived in San Jose, was visiting her father, Dung Bui, for the weekend, with her 5-year-old sister, Tiffany, fire officials said.

Tiffany and Dung Bui were hospitalized along with an unidentified male in his 30s, Von Raesfeld said. Three others, Cindy's grandfather, Nguyet Bui, 54, and an unidentified couple with a 15-month-old child, managed to escape the fire without harm.

The couple and the baby were asleep in the front living room -- where the fire originated -- when the toddler awoke to smoke and began crying, Von Raesfeld said.

After escaping, one of the unidentified males ran back into the apartment to try to save Cindy. He had to retreat as firefighters arrived.

Loading