OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- Two people were hospitalized in critical condition day following an apartment fire in Oceanside that injured four others -- including a police officer who helped rescue trapped residents and a woman who safely dropped her 3-year-old son from a second-story window to a neighbor below, authorities said.
Five people were displaced, one apartment was destroyed and other units were damaged by the fire that erupted at the Briarcrest complex, 3950 Waring Road, about 10:25 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Oceanside Fire Department.
It took 40 firefighters about 35 minutes to bring the blaze under control, an OFD statement said.
The woman who dropped her child awoke to thick black smoke coming into her room through a closed door and screamed out her window for help, the OFD said, adding a male neighbor heard her cries and caught the woman's child. The woman then proceeded to find herself another way out.
The child was uninjured, according to Oceanside police, who said his mother was treated at nearby Tri-City Medical Center and released. The nature of her injury was unclear.
The two critically injured victims were airlifted to UCSD Medical Center, which has a burn unit. The fire department described them as “elderly.'' They are said to have "moderate" burns.
Police said neighbors had already broken down the “elderly'' victims' door when an officer arrived before firefighters and entered the apartment. He used his flashlight to find one of them laying on the floor, police said.
“He was able to drag the unconscious person out of the apartment,'' said a police statement. ''The officer was nearly overcome by smoke inhalation.''
The officer then handed his flashlight to a neighbor who used it to look inside the apartment and find the second victim, who was also unconscious on the floor, police said, adding that the neighbor and the officer went back into the apartment and rescued the second victim.
The police officer and another person involved in the incident were also treated at Tri-City's emergency room and released.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.