SAN DIEGO -
A natural-gas leak was behind an explosion and fire that damaged three La Jolla homes Tuesday night, displacing two people and causing an estimated $450,000 worth of damage, authorities reported Wednesday.
The fire was reported at about 9:20 p.m. Tuesday at a home in the 5600 block of Soledad Road. Firefighters say the fire started in the garage of the home.
Neighbors say they heard and felt an explosion just before the fire started.
"He said, 'I thought that it was an earthquake' because the house shook a little bit… with a big bang," said neighbor Dick Doyle. "He went and looked out in the garage and saw the fire."
Neighbor Nancy Kassel added, "He said, 'Mom, there's a fire,' and I looked out and I thought he was kidding and there was a huge blaze."
One man who was inside the home was able to get out safely. Crews had the fire knocked down by about 10:17 p.m., a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department dispatcher said.
The fire damaged the roof of the home next door. Some residents who live nearby were briefly evacuated.
The blaze, which started in a home near a water heater, wreaked an estimated $350,000 in damages to that house. The homes on each side of it sustained about $50,000 damage apiece, SDFRD spokesman Maurice Luque said.
The American Red Cross was called to help the two displaced people arrange for temporary lodging.