An elderly man who died Tuesday at a Lakeside mobile home park has been identified by friends as James Lacey. NBC 7’s Liberty Zabala shares the heartbreaking story of the victim’s wife, who refused to leave her husband inside the burning home.
A fast-spreading fire killed an elderly man in Lakeside Tuesday morning, according to fire officials.
The fire was reported around 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Shangri La Mobile Home Park in the 14000 block of Highway 8 Business, near Lake Jennings Park in the East County.
The property manager and neighbors have identified the victim as James Lacey.
Diana Jenkins-Pacheco, who used to live at Shangri La, happened to be driving by when she saw smoke.
"Rose, the lady who lives there, was yelling from her doorstep that her husband was in the house," Jenkins-Pacheco said. "She was hanging onto the rails. She didn’t want to leave her husband."
Two nurses at a nearby restaurant rushed over and were able to pull the distraught woman from the home, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Jenkins-Pacheco tried to go inside, but couldn't reach the victim.
"I couldn’t see nothing in there. Black smoke, that's all. I could hear her husband yelling for help," she said, choking back tears.
Lakeside Fire Station 3 is next door to the trailer park, and crews arrived seconds after receiving the call. However, the home was too far gone.
“Even when the firemen arrived, I don’t believe they attempted to go in at that moment either. There was just too much stuff in the way. The house was filled with a lot of stuff,” Jenkins-Pacheco said.
The property manager of the complex said the mobile home park said couple had lived there for 25 or 30 years.
“She’s a real nice lady. I can imagine her trying to pull him out,” Bill Masterson said.
Two people were taken to the UCSD Medical Center, and one person refused treatment at the scene, according to Lakeside Fire Chief Andy Parr.
“It’s a tragic day in here in Lakeside,” Parr said.
At least six engines from Lakeside, Heartland Fire and La Mesa Fire responded. The sheriff’s ASTREA helicopter also assisted.
The fire was so intense that it shattered the windows of the home next door.
The sheriff's department's Bomb/Arson Unit is investigating the cause of the fire.