Car Fireball Sparks Inferno

By Katia Lopez-Hodoyan
|  Monday, Jul 26, 2010  |  Updated 8:45 AM PDT
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Dozens of residents decided to evacuate, after an out of control driver crashed her car into a home and caused a fire. It happened SUnday in the  8100 block of Calico Street in <a title=Mira Mesa." />

Dozens of residents decided to evacuate, after an out of control driver crashed her car into a home and caused a fire. It happened SUnday in the 8100 block of Calico Street in Mira Mesa.

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A suspected drunk driver caused a chaotic scene at a Mira Mesa neighborhood Sunday.

“You just heard a pop, pop, pop,” described neighbor, Hope Bromley as she watched firefighters control a fire in the 8100 block of Calico Street.

“It's a sound that you can't even describe,” added another witness.

Art Lopez, 45, said he was driving through a Mira Mesa neighborhood just before 5 p.m. Sunday when he saw a woman driving erratically, at well over 50 miles an hour.

“ She started losing control,” recalled Lopez. “She was swerving.” Lopez called immediately called 911 and followed the driver.

A few moments later, residents say, the woman’s car hit a parked car triggering even more crashes.

“She had already hit one [car] earlier down the road,” said Bromley. “Then, she hits this [second] truck, side swipes it and then runs here to this home. At first, I just smelled some smoke and I thought someone was burning something.”

An elderly couple was inside the home at the time. Despite the fact that the crash crumbled a portion of their front roof, they were not injured.

“The resident of the structure that was hit escaped and went to a neighbor’s house,” said Battalion Chief Mike Finnerty, San Diego Fire and Rescue.

“The residents next door…when they heard the impact…evacuated themselves,” Finnerty said.

But things got even more complicated.

When the driver’s car crashed into the home, firefighters say it also ran into a gas meter. Flames quickly followed.

“I was afraid that if that gas line blows, this whole neighborhood is going to blow,” recalled Lopez.

But that didn't stop him from helping the driver. Lopez got out of his car to rescue the woman. Two other neighbors ran to help as well.

“By the time I ran from my car across the street, there were already flames at the bottom of the car,” said Lopez. “So we started to pull her out and we carried her out onto the street. We basically saved her life.”

Firefighters were able to put the fire out quickly. But there was another problem.

“Because the location of the gas meter is near where the electrical panel we also had an electrical hazard,” said Finnerty as he waited for SDG&E repair crews to shut off the gas.

San Diego police suspect the driver was under the influence.

“To do that much damage and more or less walk away from it- is very, very lucky,” stated Finnerty.

The driver was transported to the hospital to be evaluated. No one was injured.

According to San Diego police, the driver will probably face misdemeanor charges.
 

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