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Car Plows Into Petaluma House, Displacing 8 Residents

PETALUMA (CBS SF) -- A woman driving a Honda smashed into the garage of a house Wednesday morning in northeast Petaluma, displacing eight residents, a fire captain said.

The accident was the second time the home had been hit by a vehicle in the past month, according to authorities.

At around 10:05 a.m., the Petaluma Fire Department was dispatched to assist Petaluma Police Department with a reported vehicle accident that crashed into a residence. The accident happened at the home located at 99 Maria Drive in Petaluma near Lauren Drive.

Fire units arrived to find a grey Honda CR-V that had crashed into the garage portion of the residence, causing severe structural damage to the garage and attached home. Four adults and three or four children were at the home at the time of the crash.

"It sounded like an explosion. It was just a really loud crash and then I heard my step-dad telling everybody to get out. 'Get out!' Because he saw smoke and it smelled like gas," said resident Abril Morga.

Neither the driver or the residents were injured in the collision, but the damaged caused by the Honda caused significant structural damage to the garage and structural components of the home, causing it to be unsafe and uninhabitable.

The Petaluma City Building Department Inspector along with Petaluma Fire personnel evaluated the structure and determined it to have major structural damage. Personnel made emergency stabilization measures to the residence to prevent it from collapsing and electrical power and gas were shut down for safety concerns.

The building was later "red tagged" as uninhabitable by a building department inspector.

The eight residents living at the home will receive emergency shelter services from the American Red Cross.

"Eight family members live at this building. Three of them are children, so they will be displaced for the holiday season, said Petaluma Fire Capt. Greg Taylor. "We're currently working with Red Cross, trying to get them some lodging and housing."

"We haven't even bought a tree yet, so I don't think we will have one this year," said Morga.

The California Fire Foundation SAVE Program is also providing the family with $250 of emergency support funds.

This is the second time a car has crashed into this home in the past month.

"The same house got hit a couple weeks ago," said Petaluma Police Lt. Tim Lyons.

During a CHP pursuit, the suspect lost control and crashed into the house. Two crashes in the same month has residents nervous.

When asked if she and her family were going to move back into the home after it's fixed, Morga replied, "At the moment, we're not sure."

The Petaluma Police Department is investigating the cause of the accident, but have an idea what might be behind the crash.

"We think the driver accidently hit the accelerator and once they realized that they hit the accelerator, they pressed down harder thinking they were hitting the brake," said Lyons.

Don Ford contributed to this report.

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