SAN DIEGO -- Two off-duty firefighters ran to help when flames broke out in an apartment near their homes in Pacific Beach, helping save surrounding units.
Neighbors spotted the fire on Diamond Street near Pacific Beach Middle School around 4 a.m., San Diego Fire-Rescue Batt. Chief Craig Newell said.
Callers weren't sure precisely where the fire was, so it was difficult at first for crews to find the scene, but two off-duty firefighters lived nearby and were able to reach the fire quickly.
"We were very lucky they were here," Newell said. "It was amazing to see. When we came here, they were pulling hose lines back to the hydrants to help us. (They) really helped in the fire attack."
The off-duty firefighters also closed the front door to the downstairs unit immediately when they arrived, which helped to keep flames from spreading to other units, the battalion chief explained.
Residents upstairs were forced to evacuate the four-unit building as smoke billowed from the downstairs apartment. One person suffered from minor smoke inhalation, but no one was hospitalized.
The firefight was complicated by motorcycle parts and other flammable material in the downstairs unit, Newell said. The cause of the blaze remained under investigation Thursday morning.
No one would be able to live in the downstairs apartment for "several weeks or months," Newell said, but people would be allowed to return to upstairs units.