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Flames erupt at home in Rancho Penasquitos

Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 14:55:19-04

An electrical fire broke out in a Rancho Penasquitos home Tuesday, destroying the home and leaving two people displaced.

Nearly 40 firefighters from San Diego, Poway and Rancho Santa Fe responded to the fire around 5:30 p.m. at 9170 Newmont Drive. However, crews had trouble getting inside the house, said Capt. Joe Amador of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

"It took a long time to get to the feed of the fire (because of the) amount of items in the house," Amador said.

Irma Pimentel said she and her husband were inside having dinner when the blaze erupted.

"We heard a knock on the door and that's it," said Pimentel.

The couple just barely made it out of the house.

"It is frightening, but we are glad that we are out," said Pimental.

Neighbor Les Dubow knocked on the Pimentals' door, and he said, the fire was "really bad, it was very high up, very smoky."

Dubow quickly grabbed his garden hose to try and put it out.

"It was burning everything that it could and it was burning the fence," said Dubow.

Joyce Saner, whose home is on the other side of the fence, said, "Somebody beat on my door and said fire; fire went and got my pocketbook and came on out."

The blaze took firefighters about 90 minutes to extinguish because "things kept lighting off," Amador said.

"It was quite the firefight there for a while with the fire spreading up through the attic, but we were eventually able to get it knocked down," said SDFRD Battalion Chief John Fisher.

The weather didn't help.

"A lot of worn out, tired firefighters from this, they've all been through 2 to 3 air battles, so they've been working their tails off on a hot day like today," said Fisher.

Firefighters attacked the flames from the interior and exterior.

"Very dangerous in a fire like this, these are fairly new, lightweight construction homes. We've got fire in the attic like that it can lead to a collapse fairly quickly," said Fisher.

A preliminary investigation found the fire was accidental and likely caused by an electrical short in a sunroom at the home.

The garage of the home was packed high with belongings. Firefighters said the second story was also packed with numerous items.

The Red Cross is helping the couple find another place to stay until they can return to their home.

The fire caused about $300,000 in damage to the main structure, $150,000 in damage to contents inside the home and another $5,000 in damage to neighboring buildings, Amador said.