IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — One person was killed and others were forced to evacuate their homes as flames ripped into an apartment building in the South Bay Sunday morning.
The fire broke out around 5:20 a.m. at the building on 7th Street near Cherry Avenue, Imperial Beach Fire-Rescue Chief John French told OnScene TV. Flames that started on the outside of the building were growing toward an upper floor by the time firefighters arrived.
The crews “got right into their rescue mode knowing that this was a five-unit apartment complex,” French said. An injured person was pulled from the building and immediately given CPR while 10 others, eight adults and two kids, got to safety.
“First we heard yelling and screaming and then when we looked, we saw flames coming out the top of the building and that’s when we knew it was something was serious,” neighbor Chris Curtis said. “They were coming out of the roof, 10-15 feet, it was big flames up there.”
The person who was pulled from the building did not survive their injuries, despite the efforts of paramedics, French said. No one else, including firefighters, was hurt and the fire was extinguished.
The Sheriff’s Department Bomb and Arson Unit was called to investigate. They are often used to determine the cause of fires that result in significant damage, injuries or death, so it wasn’t immediately clear if the blaze was considered suspicious.
Further word on the exact cause of death for the person pulled from the building will come from the county’s medical examiner.
Neighbors and friends of the victim are remembering him for his kindness.
“I’m going to miss him because,” neighbor Ora Pin Ladrich said. “He was a very committed exercise partner. He always came and he always helped people. When people needed him, he helped.”