Fire that threatened Grant Hill homes may have started at homeless camp

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SAN DIEGO - Firefighters knocked down a brush fire that may have started from an explosion behind a row of apartments in Grant Hill Thursday, residents said.

People who heard the explosion around 2 p.m. said they went running out of their homes on 27th Street to find a fire burning in some brush nearby.

Cell phone video shot by residents shows flames and smoke shooting over a fence. San Diego firefighters were working quickly to put it out.

Laura Hernandez owns the property just behind the bushes said the dry brush was fully engulfed in flames.

“Big fire. I didn’t hear the explosion I was just coming home,” said Hernandez. “It is very frightening because anybody can just be there behind those bushes, leave gas cans and with a little bit of heat they’ll explode. They’ll start a fire which can reach any of the houses here.”

Officials were preparing to leave when another spot fire broke out and knocked it down within minutes. The biggest concern for firefighters was ensuring the fire did not spread to nearby homes and apartments.

“It looked like there was a homeless camp in that same area. We made a quick attack on it and put the fire out,” said San Diego Fire-Rescue Captain Todd Bechtel. “People find areas to live and they have to cook… and so it could have been an accident on their part and accident. For us we were just focused on not having it go into any structures.”

Crews foamed and soaked the area to ensure another blaze doesn’t spark.

Hernandez said she’s grateful no one was injured and no homes were burned, but says it’s bound to happen again if the city doesn’t remove the tall brush from the property.

“It is a hazard. Yeah, hopefully the city can take charge of this,” said Hernandez.