Young Alamo Family Seeking New Home After Fire Displaces Them

Liliya Georgiyeva broke the rules and allowed her two young daughters to sleep in her bed Thursday evening, which may have saved them from a Friday morning fire.

Nearly everything that Liliya Georgiyeva owns is covered in a layer of oily black soot.

Her family photos, her daughters' stuffed animals, a bouquet of roses that were sitting on the dining room table were just some of the things affected by a .

But that's just stuff.

Most importantly, her two daughters -- Karina, 6, and Victoria, 2 -- are safe.

"It could have been worse," Georgiyeva said.

The stuff is dirty, some of it destroyed, their unit in the three-unit building, located on Danville Boulevard, is inhabitable.

The fire started around 12:45 a.m., Friday morning, in the kitchen.

"The fire alarm went off and I was thinking, 'What the heck?'" Georgiyeva said. "But when I opened my (bedroom) door I saw the heating unit on fire and the floor below it on fire, too."

Breaking the rules may have saved lives

Her bedroom was at one end of the second floor apartment and the fire started in the kitchen at the other end. Between the two was Karina and Victoria's bedroom.

"I usually don't let (my daughters) sleep with me, but that night I did," she said. "I put them to bed and closed my bedroom door. One by one, they ended up in my room and we went to bed at about 10:30."

Because Karina and Victoria's room is closer to the kitchen it sustained more smoke damage. Georgiyeva said she was thankful she broke the rules that night, allowing the kids to sleep with her.

"Who knows what could have happened," she said.

After seeing the fire, she grabbed the kids and started screaming for help.

"I was banging on doors, screaming for people to call 911," she said. "The neighbor from across the street heard me and came over to help."

Neighbor springs into action with a garden hose

David Lehman, who lives in one of the three units with his family in the same building with Georgiyeva, heard her yelling and sprung into action with a garden hose before the were on scene.

"If it weren't for Dave, it could have been much worse," Georgiyeva said.

After hearing Georgiyeva's call for help, Lehman ran outside and grabbed a garden hose. The hose wasn't long enough to run it up the stairs to the second floor unit so he circled to the back of the house where he shares a second floor balcony with Georgiyeva. He pulled the hose around the back, and had another neighbor toss it up to the balcony. He then began to douse the enflamed door with water, subduing some of the heat, until the fire department showed up.

"Dave grabbed that hose, the door was completely on fire. If Dave didn't do it, this whole building may have burned down," Georgiyeva said.

"This was eye opening," Lehman said.

Lehman said the fire department told him that if the fire had burned for a few more minutes, the building would have been a total loss. However, damage was estimated to be around $75,000, said Kim French, a spokesperson for the fire district. There were also no injuries to residents or firefighters, she added.

Was it the wall-mounted heating and cooling unit?

The exact cause of the fire is being investigated. Georgiyeva said it appeared the fire started with the wall-mounted heating and cooling unit above the balcony door in the kitchen. French said that the wall unit could be a possible cause.

This singular wall-mounted unit heats and cools the entire apartment. It was badly burned and the area around it was considerably damaged. Each of the residents in the three-unit building have these heating and cooling devices.

In addition to the main building, there are two separate dwellings behind it.

All five apartments are without power. Georgiyeva's apartment is severely damaged, Lehman's apartment has some water damage right below where the fire started, the other three -- one in the main building and two behind -- are just without power. There is no concrete estimate of when the power will be restored, which has displaced all the residents.

Lehman said everyone is sleeping at friends and family houses, on couches and air mattresses.

PG&E Spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian said, generally speaking, before the power can be turned back on, the company needs proof of inspection from local authorities that is safe to do so.

Liliya and the girls still need a home

Friday morning and through the weekend, the displaced Georgiyeva and her daughters were put up in a hotel in Walnut Creek by the Red Cross.

"They were amazing," Georgiyeva said. "They gave my kids Mickey Mouse toys, the same toys we bought in Disneyland that were destroyed (in the fire)."

Now, the young family is staying with a neighbor's friend, in Pleasant Hill. But that's temporary.

"We're putting the word out, we need a place to live," Georgiyeva said.

Her oldest daughter goes to Elementary School so the goal is to stay in Alamo.

Yet, above all, regardless of what happens and where they go, she's thankful the kids were in her bed Thursday night and for the smoke alarm.

"Glad we had the smoke detector otherwise we might not have made it," she said. "That saved my life and the lives of my daughters."

If you'd like to help Liliya Georgiyeva and her two children email Danville Patch editor Terry Parris Jr. at terry.parris@patch.com.


David Lehman February 23, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Nothing ?
Terry Parris Jr. February 23, 2012 at 10:00 PM
David: Are you still without power? Any updates?
David Lehman February 23, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Yes we are still without power, and we do not know anything


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