Group home set on fire months after resident was killed with frying pan

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EL CAJON, Calif. — Firefighters say someone intentionally set fire to a transitional group home in El Cajon Thursday night.

When firefighters got to the home in the 1200 block of Naranca Avenue, they found the blaze was contained to one bedroom and quickly put out the flames. They say the fire was started by a resident who then ran away from the home.

“Apparently one of the residents was having an issue and was upset,” a Heartland Fire Department spokesman said.

Fire officials say one person was cut by broken glass, but the injury was minor. Nine people were displaced for the night and being helped by the American Red Cross.

This wasn’t the first incident that has happened at the group home. In December, police say a resident used a frying pan to kill another resident.

When a nurse heard fire alarms and smelled smoke coming from the home, she ran to her neighbor’s house.

“As I came out into the front yard there was one of the residents and he was in hysteria, bleeding, and he said that the house was on fire,” said the woman, who did not wish to be identified.

Knowing it was a group home where people with mental and physical disabilities live, she knew she needed to act fast.

“I tried to get a headcount from the manager and he told me at that point that everybody was out but as one of the residents came out, she told me that there were possibly 10 people living in the home and so I evacuated all of the residents … there was a lot of smoke, there was fire and they were just kind of lost,” the woman said. “I don’t mind that home being there if it’s going to serve justice and if it’s going to help residents in need … that’s what that’s supposed to do. That’s not what’s happening there.”

The neighbor said she is relieved everyone is OK.

“Just by the grace of God. I’m in the nursing field and that’s my calling, just make sure that everybody’s safe.”

As of late Thursday, police were still searching for the person who started the fire.

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