Off-duty firefighter helps douse blaze that erupted in neighbor's La Mesa garage

Incident in 9500 block of Gregory Street

LA MESA, Calif. - A pilot light ignited some fumes in a La Mesa garage, leaving a 31-year-old man with  first- and second-degree burns to his arms and chest Wednesday.

The fire in an attached garage of a home in the 9500 block of Gregory Street was reported at 10:37 p.m. Tuesday, Deputy Chief Gregory McAlpine of Heartland Fire & Rescue said.

Damage was estimated at $30,000, and the man suffered burns on 5-10 percent of his chest, he said.

The man told authorities he was working on a motor in his garage with some flammable chemicals that were touched off by the pilot light on a gas-fired water heater, according to McAlpine.

The man's wife, Janie Saccatti, told 10News her husband tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher, but the flames were too much.

An off-duty firefighter who lives nearby helped put out the fire and get medical help. Saccatti said their neighbor helped douse the fire with a garden hose.

Regular firefighters arrived in about five minutes and put out the fire in 12 minutes, Monica Zech of the fire agency said.

The burned man was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center, McAlpine said.

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