Santa Monica firefighters responded to a structure fire near Montana and Second streets on May 15 after an electrical transformer exploded, sending live power lines onto a nearby apartment building.

Deputy Chief Tom Clemo said the wire sparked a fire in a third floor unit that prompted the evacuation of about 50 residents and drew a two alarm response from firefighters.

“A Three story apartment complex with over 20-30 units in it, is going to prompt a pretty significant response with a fire on the third floor,” he said.

Clemo said SMFD sends an abundance of units to structure fires. He said four fire engines, several SMFD trucks, a battalion chief and haz-mat rig initially responded to the call and upon arrival, the incident commander called in additional units.

“Recently we just changed our response pattern to charge people and resources right out of the door,” he said. “If we hit it hard up front, we have a much higher success rate because if it gets away from us, it can be a lot more serious.”

He said the department was already responding to two medical aid calls and another structure fire at the time of the incident so trucks were called in from neighboring agencies to help.

Clemo said the city has experienced faulty electrical infrastructure in the past, but not more so than anyone else. “We’ve had several electrical vaults get smoked up, or transformers explode but I don’t think that its anything uncommon in an urban environment,” he said.

One resident was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene but was not transported to the hospital.

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