A Valencia Park homeowner was in complete shock after a fire engulfed her home Wednesday evening.
According to authorities, the blaze began around 5 p.m. in the 5600 block of Santa Margarita Street. Flames and a large amount of smoke stemming from the home were visible from a distance.
NBC 7 San Diego chopper video showed a person near the residence using a garden hose in an attempt to help extinguish the fire while waiting for emergency crews to arrive.
At least five fire engines responded to the scene. By 5:20 p.m., the fire had been knocked down, though crews remained on site to investigate and mop up hot spots.
Authorities said there were reports of at least one woman inside the home at the time of the blaze.
The woman, later identified as the homeowner, suffered some smoke inhalation but was able to safely exit the residence. No other injuries were reported.
The homeowner, who only wished to be identified by her first name, Annie, was in utter disbelief upon seeing her beloved residence up in flames. She said she’s owned her Valencia Park home since 1981.
“I don’t understand what happened,” Annie said.
She said she was napping when suddenly she smelled smoke.
“Then all of the sudden it just turned into black smoke,” she recalled. “And that’s when I ran outside and got the water hose.”
Thinking her roommate was still inside the house Annie said she desperately tried to put out the flames.
However, the fire quickly spread.
“It was just engulfed in smoke. You couldn’t see flames, it was just nothing but smoke,” said neighbor Pete Camacho.
Neighbors said they could see Annie out on the front porch. She wasn’t budging.
“She was just sitting up there. She didn’t want to move or do anything,” said neighbor Deborah Razo.
Gregory Fort and another neighbor had to physically pull Annie away to safety.
“She wasn’t speaking, she was crying, and she was sort of smoky,” said Fort.
Her hair singed and lungs polluted by smoke, Annie sat in the back of an ambulance and refused to go to the hospital. She didn't want to leave her home behind.
Annie told NBC 7 San Diego she couldn’t stand the thought of losing her home, especially since it’s the home she once shared with her late husband, Willie, who died from cancer in 2007.
“That house is me. That is me. It represents me,” she said. “My husband and I lived here when he was alive. I had to take care of him for four years until he died.”
Annie said her husband was a Navy veteran. Like the home they bought together, she loved Willie more than anything.
"They just don't make him the way he was. I would never, ever find a man like my husband. I won't even look for another husband because I will never find one like him," she added.
When her husband died, Annie promised herself she would never leave their home, a place she holds dear to her heart.
“Anybody who knew my husband would just tell you he is the greatest. So, that's my husband, that's my life," she said.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation and will be determined by fire officials at a later time.