“The flame was 100 feet high and it was easy,” said Neil Charlett, a deacon at Pacific Beach Presbyterian Church.
Charette’s church is across the street from where the fire started. He was sleeping in the van when it happened.
“It was this huge flame,” Charette said.
For 17 years, Charette has been a night patrol for her church, but she felt helpless against the fire.
“It’s so huge that you feel like you’re this big,” Charette said.
The fire broke out at the construction site of the apartment building. Charette said the heat was so intense that it cracked a church window and partially melted a nursery door. He also melted down the door of a car parked nearby. Some of the owners are out of town for vacation and come home to this.
“One girl said her car was on fire and her father was trying to kill her,” said Sam Samson, who lives two blocks away.
Charcoal droppings set fire to two palm trees on Larmont Street and Grand Avenue.
“It was raining fire,” said Samson.
The flames were near multiple power lines. SDG&E was required to turn off electricity in neighboring homes for up to 12 hours.
“People were trapped in garages and apartment complexes,” said Craig Newell, battalion commander of the SD Fire Department.
The fire destroyed three houses. The San Diego Fire Department said the rapid spread was caused by flammable liquids and construction equipment, but the exact cause is still under investigation. one suffered minor burns. The San Diego Fire Department said they received immediate medical attention and are safe.