One Candle Costs Homeowners $2M

A fire that caused about $2 million in damage to a Via Serena home started with an unattended burning candle, fire officials told the North County Times.

The two-alarm fire happened just after 6 p.m. Monday at a 7000 square foot home in the 13000 block of Via Serena in Poway.

The home belongs to Dr. Scott Harman and his family.  Harman is a well known Poway resident who ran for city council in 2004.  Neither he or his wife and two teenage sons were home when the fire started, said fire officials.

The fire broke out in a back room near an indoor gym. The homeowners' son had left the candle burning in a bedroom while he was briefly out of the house, officials told the paper. When he returned, he discovered the flames, they said.

Nearby residents saw the smoke and some panicked.  "I didn't know what to do, I didn't know what was going on,"said Ashley Stecher.  "There was just so much smoke coming from the home."

Neighbors say the Harman's youngest son was the first to find the fire and tried to put it out with buckets of water.  The high school senior was set to graduate Thursday.

"It's just really sad, they're a really nice family," said neighbor Karen Pado.  She said Dr. Harman's wife Catherine, is a home decorator and personally customized the family home herself.  "It was a gorgeous beautiful home, I feel really horribly for them."

The family is also personal friends with Poway Fire Department Division Chief Garry MacPherson.  He was called out to the scene and comforted family members who became emotional.  "We're going to do everything we can to help them through this tragedy," MacPherson said.

At least one room was destroyed by the blaze.  The home also suffered major water and smoke damage.

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