Navy veteran among 3 residents hurt battling Mid-City apartment fire

SAN DIEGO -- Firefighters battled an apartment blaze late Thursday afternoon that forced evacuations and injured three, including a Navy veteran who hopped in to help fight off the flames.

Officials say the fire was reported in a second-floor unit of 3-story apartment complex on Estrella Avenue in the Colina Del Sol neighborhood near City Heights.

Fire crews battled the flames while police blocked traffic in the area and residents evacuated the building. Firefighters had knocked down the blaze by around 5 p.m. San Diego Fire-Rescue Capt. Stephen Laughlin said there was significant damage to the front end of the apartment.

Three people at the complex broke in to the unit and tried to put out the flames, suffering non-life-threatening injuries that sent them to the hospital.

That included Navy veteran Dwayne Barnes, who kicked in the door to the apartment along with his brother and another tenant to make sure no people or animals were trapped inside. The trio did their best to fight back the flames before crews arrived.

“That’s the way he is. He’s Navy. It’s in his blood. We get used to it. I’ve seen him go through some crazy stuff to save people,” his wife, Kim, told FOX 5.

“It hasn’t fully sunk in until I see him," Barnes said of her reaction to her husband's heroics. "I don’t know if I’m going to beat him up, or give him a kiss yet, but either way it’s going to be one of the two. I’m proud of him either way."