SAN DIEGO — Three people died in an early morning house fire in the Mountain View neighborhood, apparently trapped inside by security bars, and authorities say it appears someone lit the blaze on purpose.
The fire was reported just before 6:15 a.m. Thursday at a single-story home on South 38th Street near Harding Avenue, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Lt. Chris Babler.
When crews arrived, smoke and flames were coming from the house. Firefighters had to break through security bars on the front door to get inside, Babler said. All three of the victims’ bodies were found in the front of the house near the barred door and it appeared that they were trying to get out, he said.
In the hours after the flames were extinguished, police said they were treating the house as a crime scene and were waiting for a search warrant to investigate further. “Based on the information from the fire department about the cause and origin of the fire, it appears to be intentionally set,” San Diego Police Lt. Matt Dobbs told reporters at the scene.
He did not share further details on what led to that conclusion, but a department news release Thursday said police, “do not believe there are any outstanding suspects or dangers to the community at this time.”
Metro Arson Strike Team investigators and homicide detectives could be seen gathering evidence and assessing the fire into the afternoon.
Neighbors told a news photographer that the homeowner had installed the security bars on the house about three months ago.
Firefighters rescued two dogs, an American pit bull terrier and a Chihuahua, from the house. They were taken to San Diego Humane Society for Emergency Boarding, “where veterinarians have performed x-rays and are keeping a close eye on them,” the agency said in an email. “The dogs have received some pain medication are resting comfortably.”
The fire caused an estimated $200,000 in damage to the structure and an estimated $100,000 in damage to its contents, San Diego Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. It took crews about 15 minutes to contain.