NATIONAL CITY -- Repair crews were using plywood to secure a house in National City Friday after an early morning fire gutted most of it.
Five lives were saved, though, thanks to the nextdoor neighbors.
"Around 4 o'clock in the morning they tell us, 'Hey, get up! C'mon! Fire is coming! Fire!" said Carlos Macias.
They were startled.
"Everybody was sleeping -- my son, my two daughters, and my wife," Macias said. "We went outside and started seeing a lot of fire. I couldn't believe it -- scared, you know."
Firefighters arrived and started pumping water. The homeowner repeatedly expressed his appreciation.
"Thank God. We're alive -- except my two little puppy dogs."
Several dogs escaped, but Chillindrina and Daisy were frightened by the clamor around them. They huddled together under a bed where they died.
The grief was visible on the faces of family members, but there was also gratitude. The family was safe; and several treasures were retrieved; including a photo of son, Abraham, when he graduated from the police academy. He is now a San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy.
The fire destroyed many furnishings and a hot dog cart that was used as a source of income. A churro machine was not damaged. Firefighters also managed to salvage several dozen Valentine’s day baskets they planned to sell over the coming weekend at an Imperial Beach shopping center.
The Macias family is insured and is being housed in a nearby hotel.
The cause is under investigation. Macias said he thought it was an overloaded electrical circuit.