Crews douse fire at home in 900 block of 22nd Street in Golden Hill area

SAN DIEGO - A fire tore through a Victorian-style home in the Golden Hill neighborhood Wednesday, causing an estimated $500,000 worth of damage and displacing seven residents.

The non-injury blaze of unknown origin erupted just before noon on the second floor of the two-story subdivided house in the 900 block of 22nd Street, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

The two people home at the time were able to escape on their own, and firefighters rescued a large dog being kept in a pet carrier in one of the two upstairs living areas, SDFRD spokesman Maurice Luque said. The personnel also were able to save some holiday gifts from damage by covering them with tarps, he said.

Crews at first thought they'd extinguished the flames within about six minutes, but then found that the blaze was still spreading inside the walls of the old residence. It took them about 45 minutes to fully douse the fire, which required them to tear apart walls and cut a hole in the steeply slanted roof to ventilate heat and smoke.

As neighbors watched the flames and smoke pour out of the home, time stood still for a woman named Tanya as she waited to find out about her dog, Sophie, who was inside her kennel trapped inside the burning home.

When 10News arrived, residents and neighbors stood and watched the flames in awe.

"I was in the bedroom, wrapping Christmas presents when I heard a neighbor yelling," resident Ann Hubbard told 10News. She was mid-sentence talking about what happened next when flames erupted again.

"I saw the flames just licking at … 'Oh my God,'" she said as she cupped her mouth with her hands.

Several feet away, Tanya was seen talking to the police officer at the scene. She was stretching her hands three feet wide in a gesture to him.

Less than five minutes later, Sophie ran straight toward her. The two are reunited, and Tanya's outstretched arms, this time, were around her dog.

SDFRD firefighter Barry Links said the dog was in a smoke-filled room with zero visibility.

"The dog was very timid," Links told 10News. "(S)he was in his crate kind of cowering down."

Links said he wasn't even sure if the dog was even conscious.    

Tanya thanked the firefighters, saying, "I'm grateful. Really grateful."

Firefighters said they were faced with numerous challenges, namely the older construction of the Victorian-style home built in 1912.

"They call it balloon construction and the fire gets inside that wall," said Luque. "There's no fire stops and the fire just travels very quickly up those walls into all kinds of concealed little spaces up near the attic."

The monetary losses were set at at $300,000 to the structure and $200,000 to contents. Investigators were unable to immediately pin down the cause of the fire, though it appeared to have been accidental in nature, Luque said.

The American Red Cross was called in to help the members of the three separate households in the residence arrange for interim lodging.

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