SAN DIEGO – Flames tore through a heavily cluttered Oak Park home Friday, sending a plume of thick black smoke into the air east of downtown San Diego, causing about $255,000 worth of damage and leaving 11 people in need of emergency shelter.
A recreational vehicle that began burning for unknown reasons sparked the non-injury residential structure fire in the 5000 block of Kalmia Street about 8:30 a.m., according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
“I heard a big boom and the lights in living room were shake, shake. I ran out - I saw big flames right there," said Deanne Massey, a woman living in the home.
According to fire officials, there were at least 11 squatters living in the home and some of them were inside when the fire started.
"When our crews arrived, there were several people outside the residence, and there were also people who were going in and out trying to recover belongings," SDFRD spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. "They were directed to stay out of the home while the firefighters attacked the fire. This was a home where there were belongings stacked up very tightly inside."
It took the crews nearly 90 minutes to subdue the flames.
The blaze resulted in an estimated $200,000 to the structure, $50,000 to contents and $5,000 to the motor home, Munoz said.
“It’s terrible. Everything we own is inside -- money, my medication. Don't know what we'll do," said Steve Ford, the RV owner.
The American Red Cross was called in to help the displaced residents secure interim shelter while arranging for permanent housing.
The cause of the blaze was under investigation.