Man injured in Mission Beach apartment fire dies of his injuries

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A man who was injured in a fire above a business near Belmont Park in Mission Beach has died.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's office announced the death of 36-year-old Aaron Porter, Wednesday evening.

For the last 20 years, Richard Ghozul has worked at Kojack's Greek and American Food, and has lived in the upstairs apartment. Tuesday morning at around 6 AM, the 70-year-old was fast asleep until flames began crackling above his ceiling. 

“My apartment [is] gone, everything," Ghozul said. 

With the help of a lifeguard who ran into the apartments, Ghozul barely made it out alive. But Aaron Porter, the man who just moved in next door, did not. According to the County Medical Examiner, Aaron Porter died at UCSD Medical Center after suffering major thermal injuries.

“He is always busy. He works on the fishing boat," Ghozul remembered of Porter. “I’m very sad for him.  Too much smoke happened to him.”

Early mornings and late nights, Porter worked at Aztec Sportfishing. We spoke to the owner, Dacia Gawitt, who said Porter worked with them every tuna season for the last four years as a deckhand. Gawitt sent 10News this statement:

“Aaron was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. All of our customers and crew loved him. He was not only a crew member he was like family. My husband and I are heartbroken. It’s a huge loss for the Aztec family and our small community of Sportfishing.”

Dacia Gawitt - Co-Owner, Aztec Sportfishing

Firefighters climbed on the roof of the two-story building and put out the fire about half an hour after it started.

A Dreyer’s Ice Cream shop and Kojack’s restaurant, both located on the first floor of the building, suffered water damage.

RELATED: Fire erupts above business in Mission Beach near Belmont Park

Fire officials told 10News the flames started in a rooftop storage area. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

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