Update: 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, details from Fire Protection District.
David Galloway had a bad day Wednesday on his 52nd birthday.
A fire made him and his family homeless, and he lost his job, Galloway told Patch. The fire of unknown origin early Wednesday morning burned out the Galloways from their apartment at 1420 Creekside Dr. on the south side of Walnut Creek. There were no injuries in the fire.
Firefighters controlled flames in a half-hour, said Robert Marshall, prevention captain of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. Galloway said it took a while for him to get an emergency worker to accompany him into his apartment to get his cell phone and call the Sleep Number store at the SunValley mall in Concord to tell them he couldn't make it to work today. The manager told him not to bother coming in because he was being let go.
The manager didn't believe the story about the fire, Galloway said. There had been discussions of job performance in recent months, Galloway said, which amounted to a misunderstanding, partly because dyslexia causes him to do some tasks slowly.
The manager of the Concord store, Andy Shukla, said Wednesday afternoon, "... he was not let go because of those issues (not coming to work Wednesday) … He was let go because of his performance."
The Red Cross is helping Galloway, his wife Nina and their 21-year-old daughter Kimberly, who are staying temporarily at The fire also damaged two one-bedroom apartments in the complex, and one of those families is homeless, too, Marshall said. The fire also harmed a laundry room and an apartment complex storage-office area that adjoined the Galloways' unit. Residents and emergency personnel rescued two cats.
"We rescued two cats from one of the apartments," said Marshall. "That was a happy outcome."
Nina Galloway said she heard a popping noise outside the apartment around 6:30 a.m., and she and her daughter Kim dashed out of their bedrooms at the same time to the dining room. There, they looked out the window to see a sheet of orange flame, she said.
They walked outside on the second floor to see the flames coming from the canopied yard area on the first floor. The fire blackened beams of the house, the roofline and burned down a section of the back fence that separates the apartment complex from the Iron Horse Trail along South Broadway.
David Galloway said he helped the building superintendent, Ed Johnston, fighting the fire. Then the wind shifted and they feared for a spread to other units, Galloway said, and he and the super knocked on doors to get residents to flee.
The cause of the fire was undetermined; investigators couldn't narrow it down, Marshall said. It was an exterior fire from the yard near the fence and burned into the center of the structure.
"The firefighters (from Contra Costa County Fire Protection District) were awesome and the (Walnut Creek) police were awesome," said Galloway. The public safety personnel helped Galloway — an artist — save his paints and paintings.
"The best thing about it is nobody got hurt," said Galloway.