Two vehicles caught fire Tuesday morning in the ground floor garage of an apartment complex, damaging three apartments above and leaving 14 units without utilities, reported a fire official.
The cause of the vehicle fire at the Daisy Hill apartment complex, 1515 Montecito Road, was being investigated by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s Bomb Arson Unit, said Ramona Fire Department/Cal Fire Battalion Chief Saul Villagomez.
The call came in at 6:25 a.m., and when the first engine arrived four minutes later firefighters saw the two vehicles burning in the building’s garage, said Villagomez.
Angelica Araiza, who lives in the complex, said she heard “explosions” or “popping” sounds from her apartment at approximately 6:15 a.m. Residents began knocking on each other’s doors to evacuate the building and called 911.
According to eyewitnesses, the car belonged to a tenant who has been making repairs on the vehicle. The apartment manager's white Ford Explorer was parked next to the car that caught fire and appeared to have damage as well.
“We have 14 apartments that are unable to be occupied due to the fire,” Villagomez said.
Red Cross was assisting approximately eight residents who were displaced from their apartments and making arrangements for those without utilities, he said.
“We hope it’s short term,” said the fire chief.
No fire-related injuries were reported, but the fire department transported an elderly man to Pomerado Hospital after he walked outside to see the blaze and tripped and hit his head, said Villagomez.
He gave a rough damage estimate of $150,000.
About five engines responded to the scene, including a truck from the Barona Fire Department through the mutual aid agreement.