A fire quickly spread through a canyon located behind Bell Middle School in the Bay Terraces neighborhood of San Diego on Tuesday afternoon.
Smoke and flames shot up from the canyon next to a row of homes and directly behind the parking lot of the school.
Firefighters worked to contain the blaze while officers went to each door on Zest Street, evacuating around 25 houses threatened. The fire got very close to homes, burning two fences and a shed. Police also had to break down one fence to rescue three animals in a backyard.
San Diego Fire-Rescue helicopter dropped water on the flames that had scorched the canyon and were burning the fences along a ridge of homes. Flames scorched the corner of one yard and damaged a backyard shed.
Investigators are trying to figure out if children from the school started the fire.
"There are three different witnesses that said they saw six teenagers - they believe teenagers in the canyon with matches, starting the fire," said SDFD spokesperson Maurice Luque. "Right after the fire started they saw them with matches down in the canyon and then they split - they took off."
The school is located at 620 Briarwood Rd. north of state Route 54 and south of Paradise Valley Road.
About 3 acres were burned and the fire was contained in 30 minutes.