Smoke began billowing from the downstairs laundry room at the Casa de Figueroa apartments in Pacific Beach about 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Trevor McManus just happened to be passing by. "I pulled up and the place is on fire."
Ashley White recalled a tremor and a noise just moments before.
"I felt a shake and I heard a loud boom. I thought it was an earthquake for a second; didn't think much of it."
Soon she smelled something and called 911. Cellphone video shows neighbors running upstairs.
McManus continued, "and there's some really brave residents there that ran to the doors, knocked on the doors, and got everybody out."
Two men kicked and pounded on one upstairs apartment door; it finally caved in and a basset hound was coaxed out and sent down the stairs.
Firefighters arrived and quickly doused the flames. All the tenants and all the dogs in the apartments were rescued.